Eastern Syria campaign (September–December 2017)

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Eastern Syria campaign (September–December 2017)
Part of the Deir ez-Zor Governorate campaign and the Russian military intervention in the Syrian civil war
Destruction of ISIS.svg
SAA and ISF advances along the border
Date14 September – 17 December 2017
(3 months and 3 days)

Decisive Syrian Army and allies victory

  • ISIL militants maintain presence in the desert

Syrian Arab Republic

Allied militias:
PMF militias[1][3][4][5]
Liwa Fatemiyoun[1][2]
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Commanders and leaders
Syria Maj. Gen. Suheil al-Hassan[6]
Syria Maj. Gen. Issam Zahreddine [7]
Syria Ghassan Iskander Tarraf[7]
(Republican Guard)
Russia Lt. Gen. Valery Asapov [8]
(Syrian 5th Corps commander)[9]
Iran Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani[6]
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Units involved





  • Lebanese Hezbollah[1]
  • Syrian Hezbollah[1]

Military of ISIL

  • Garrison of Deir ez-Zor Province
  • Garrison of Homs Province
Several thousand 5,000–10,000+[14][15][16]
Casualties and losses
601+ killed[17] 985+ killed[18]
987 civilians killed[19]

The Eastern Syria campaign[20] of September–December 2017 was a large-scale military operation of the Syrian Army (SAA) and its allies against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during the Syrian Civil War. Its goal was to clear the city of Deir ez-Zor of any remaining ISIL forces,[21] capture ISIL's de facto capital of Mayadin,[22][23] as well as seize the border town of Abu Kamal, which became one of ISIL's final urban strongholds by the latter stages of the campaign.

The campaign was concurrent with the 2017 Western Iraq campaign, the Raqqa campaign conducted by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against ISIL's former capital city of Raqqa, as well as with the SDF's offensive in Deir ez-Zor province along the eastern banks of the Euphrates River.

The campaign[edit]

Surrounding Deir ez-Zor[edit]

Following a large-scale summer campaign in central Syria, which succeeded in lifting the siege of Deir ez-Zor,[24] the Syrian Army began operations to surround the remaining ISIL-held parts of the city. On 15 September, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova announced the beginning of the army offensive across the Euphrates River, codenamed Assad's jump.[25] Three days later, pro-government forces crossed the Euphrates River[26] using pontoon bridges, and launched an offensive on the east bank of the city of Deir ez-Zor.[27] By 16 October, the Syrian Army captured the town of al-Husayniyah on the other side of the Euphrates from Deir ez-Zor, establishing a siege of the ISIL-held part of the city.[28]

Capture of Mayadin[edit]

Concurrently to its operations to encircle Deir ez-Zor, the Army launched an offensive towards Mayadin, ISIL's new capital, on 4 October, coming within 10 kilometers of the town.[29] The military pushed into the town from the west on 6 October from the west,[30] but were pushed back by 9 October.[31]

On 12 October, the Syrian Army encircled Mayadin,[32] after which they pushed into the western and northern parts of the city.[33] Two days later, the city was captured[34] and by 17 October, all land between Deir ez-Zor and Mayadin along the Euphrates was captured by government.[23]

Deir ez-Zor city cleared[edit]

Following the surrounding of the ISIL-held part of Deir ez-Zor in mid-October,[28] the Army started operations to clear the city on 17 October, quickly capturing three districts.[35] On 26 October, government forces managed to capture the Saqr island[36] and several days later captured two districts and a stadium in Deir ez-Zor.[37]

On 2 November, ISIL's defense lines in Deir ez-Zor collapsed[38] as the Tiger forces and Republican guard units made rapid advances in the central parts of the city, capturing Deir ez-Zor's largest district,[39] Hamidiyah.[40] This left ISIL forces squeezed[41] in the four remaining neighborhoods under their control[21] along the western bank of the Euphrates.[42] By midnight, three neighborhoods were captured,[42] leaving only one district under jihadist control.[21] On 3 November, Syrian government forces completely captured the city.[21][43][44]

Abu Kamal offensive[edit]

On 23 October, government forces started an offensive to reach Abu Kamal,[45] managing to capture the strategic T-2 Pumping Station by 26 October[46][47] coming within 40 kilometers of Abu Kamal as of 27 October.[48] At this point, ISIL was preparing the town's defenses.[49]

On 28 October, ISIL launched a counter-attack[50] that managed to recapture two towns along the Euphrates and push back government troops back to Mayadin,[51] but failed to recapture the T-2 Station.[52]

On 5 November, government forces pushed within 15 kilometers of Abu Kamal,[53] reaching the Iraqi border.[4] After the Syrian Army met up with Iraqi militias on the border on 8 November,[54][55] the Syrian military and its allies launched an assault on Abu Kamal,[5] quickly encircling the city.[56] The next day, pro-government forces captured Abu Kamal.[57] However, late that day, an ISIL counterattack recapture large parts of the town.[58] On 11 November, ISIL managed to fully recapture the city.[59]

On 17 November, Syrian Army forces stormed the city again,[citation needed] capturing it by 19 November.[60] After the loss of both Al-Qa'im and Abu Kamal, ISIL relocated its de facto capital to the Syrian city of Hajin.[61]

Western bank of the Euphrates River[edit]

Fighting in the surrounding countryside of Abu Kamal continued until 28 November. Between 16 and 28 November 399 fighters on both sides were killed.[62] During this time, government forces advanced along the western bank of the Euphrates,[63] so to besiege a pocket of ISIL territory southeast of Mayadin.[64] The pocket was surrounded on 21 November,[65] and in the following days the Army slowly cleared it.[66][67] By 28 November, the pocket was eliminated[68] and the town of Al-Quriyah was captured.[69][62]

The military then continued with its operations to link up forces advancing southeast of Mayadin with those at Abu Kamal.[70] By 5 December, they were 10 kilometers from achieving this[71] and on 6 December the link-up came,[72] with the whole western bank of the Euphrates cleared[73][74] after IS forces retreated to the western countryside of Deir ez-Zor.[75] During the final push along the Euphrates, large numbers of ISIL suicide car bombers were sent against the advancing government forces, inflicting heavy casualties on the Army.[76] ISIL suicide and ground attacks continued[77] between 6 and 17 December, with 67 government fighters and 52 ISIL militants being killed.[78] During this time, ISIL managed to recapture some territory, but on 17 December, government forces secured the whole western bank of the Euphrates once again after seizing the town of Al-Salihiyah, and besieging a large pocket of ISIL forces between the eastern Homs and western Deir ez-Zor Provinces, effectively ending the campaign.[79]

Aftermath – Continued ISIL attacks and operation to take the ISIL pocket[edit]

In early April 2018, ISIL forces in a pocket in the Homs Governorate employed an Inghimasi attack on the Shaer gas field near Palmyra. The battle lasted for several hours, with the attack eventually being repelled by the Syrian army with assistance of Russian attack helicopters.[80]

On 23 May 2018, ISIL militants attacked a Syrian army base in Mayadeen in Deir Ezzor province. SOHR claimed that 35 pro-government forces killed, including at least nine Russians. According to Russian ministry of defence, at least four Russian soldiers and 43 attackers were killed during fighting.[81]

On 20 June 2018, after a massive offensive by the Syrian Army, supported by Hezbollah and the Russian air force, which lasted several days, The Syrian Defence Ministry and the Syrian Army claimed that they and their allies had recaptured the entire ISIL pocket in the Homs-Deir ez-Zor region, recapturing 1,500 km2 of land and also killing at least 50 ISIL militants.[82][83][84] However, these statements by the Syrian army appeared to be premature, as ISIL attacks from the Deir ez-Zor desert on Syrian Government positions around the Euphrates River continued during the entire summer, during which dozens of Syrian Army soldiers were killed; some estimates by the local observers are that up to 1,000 ISIL fighters are still hiding in the Homs-Deir ez-zor desert pocket.[83] On 31 August, the Syrian Army and pro-government Palestinian militia Liwa al Quds launched a massive anti-terrorist operation in the Homs-Deir ez-Zor desert, with the objective to recapture the entire ISIL desert pocket; since ISIL fighters are located in the open desert terrain, without any natural defensive positions, they probably won't be able to hold their positions in the desert very long, because they are vulnerable to massive Syrian and Russian airstrikes.[83] ISIL fell back far in the desert to try and escape the offensive.[85] On 16 September 2018, ISIL yet again overran the SAA lines and re-entered most of the desert area, killing at least 25 government soldiers.[86]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Carter Center (2017), p. 2.
  2. ^ a b "Breaking: Syrian Army, Hezbollah surround strategic base in west Deir Ezzor". 25 October 2017.
  3. ^ "Clashes between Iraqi forces and IS along Syria border - 11/4/2017 8:00:46 AM - Newser". www.newser.com. Archived from the original on 9 November 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "IRGC, Hezbollah plan to link Baghdad to Damascus through Albukamal crossing". 6 November 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Syrian army, allies, take last IS stronghold in Syria: commander". 8 November 2017 – via Reuters.
  6. ^ a b "Leaked pictures: Iranian Major General arrives in southern Deir Ezzor to help defeat ISIS". 5 November 2017.
  7. ^ a b c "Highly decorated general to replace Zahreddine as leader of Republican Guard in Deir Ezzor". Al-Masdar News. 22 October 2017.
  8. ^ "ISIS shell kills Russian commander of Syrian Euphrates crossing". Debkafile.
  9. ^ "Russia says general killed in Syria held senior post in Assad's army". 27 September 2017. Retrieved 2 October 2017 – via Reuters.
  10. ^ a b Carter Center (2017), pp. 2–3.
  11. ^ "Member of "Fath Al-Intefada" dies in clashes and "Free Palestine Movement" sends its members to support the regime in it". Action Group for Palestinians of Syria. 14 November 2018. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Death of 6 members of Al-Jaleel Brigade, affiliated to the Syrian regime". Action Group for Palestinians of Syria. 31 August 2018. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  13. ^ "Member of Free Palestine Movement killed in Deir ez-Zor". Action Group for Palestinians of Syria. 6 August 2018. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  14. ^ "Iraqi forces launch battle against Islamic State footholds in vast Anbar province". The Washington Post.
  15. ^ Josie Ensor and Ben Farmer (3 November 2017). "Isil facing endgame after fall of last city in its caliphate". The Telegraph News. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  16. ^ Loaa Adel (4 November 2017). "Al-Bukamal gathers largest number of IS members in Syria". Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  17. ^ 38+ killed during the 2017 Mayadin offensive, 120+ killed during the Battle of Deir ez-Zor (September–November 2017), 376+ killed during the 2017 Abu Kamal offensive, 67 killed (6–17 Dec.),[1] total of 601+ reported killed
  18. ^ 180+ killed during the 2017 Mayadin offensive, 401+ killed during the Battle of Deir ez-Zor (September–November 2017), 352+ killed during the 2017 Abu Kamal offensive, 52 killed (6–17 Dec.),[2] total of 985+ reported killed
  19. ^ Al-Shafa massacre kills 34 citizens including 22 children and citizen women and raises the number of the casualties of Deir Ezzor to 1000 persons during about 80 days of shelling
  20. ^ Carter Center (2017), p. 3.
  21. ^ a b c d "Syria declares victory over Islamic State in Deir al-Zor". 3 November 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2017 – via Reuters.
  22. ^ "Deir Ezzor update: Syrian Army within striking distance of ISIS capital - map". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 5 October 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  23. ^ a b Andrew Illingworth (17 October 2017). "Breaking: Elite Syrian forces liberate all of western Euphrates bank from Deir Ezzor to Al-Mayadeen". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  24. ^ "Syrian army breaks years-long Isil siege on Deir Ezzor". The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  25. ^ "Russia: Syria government forces now on east bank of Euphrates river". Reuters. 15 September 2017. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  26. ^ "The regime forces control Hawija Sakr and work with the Russians on rehabilitating the military base of Deir Ezzor and new groups arrives to the eastern bank of the Euphrates River". SOHR. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  27. ^ "Pro-government Forces Advance Toward SDF in Deir Ezzor". Syria Deeply. 19 September 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  28. ^ a b "Breaking: ISIS retreats from east Euphrates region amid rapid Syrian Army gains". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 16 October 2017. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  29. ^ "The Latest: Al-Qaida-linked group denies leader was wounded". ABC News. Archived from the original on 13 October 2017. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  30. ^ "Syrian forces enter one of Islamic State group's last strongholds - France 24". 6 October 2017. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  31. ^ "After killing about 40 members of the regime and getting them away of Al-Mayadin city… the "Islamic State" organization carries out counterattacks to break up the regime forces and kill more of their members". Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  32. ^ "The regime forces and Russian forces besiege the "capital of al-Khair State" and close all land roads with the city's countryside". Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  33. ^ "Syrian government troops push on into IS stronghold town". Fox News. 12 October 2017. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  34. ^ "Breaking: Syrian Army liberates ISIS capital city". Al-Masdar. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  35. ^ "Major development: Syrian Army liberates three districts in Deir Ezzor City". 17 October 2017. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  36. ^ "Military operations escalate in Deir Ezzor city and the regime forces re-control the land that witnessed the kill of the man who "legalized the civil war"". Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  37. ^ "Syria army, IS clashes in Deir Ezzor kill 73 - The Express Tribune". 29 October 2017. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  38. ^ "Syrian Army captures 97% of Deir Ezzor City, ISIS on its last legs: video". 2 November 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  39. ^ "The regime forces control the largest neighborhood in Deir Ezzor city and besiege ISIS in hundreds of meters remained under its control". Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  40. ^ "Breaking: Syrian Army in full control of Al-Hamidiyah Quarter for the first time in six years". 2 November 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  41. ^ "The regime forces impose their control on more than 95% of Deir Ezzor city and ISIS defend the last area remaining under its control". Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  42. ^ a b "ISIS fully expelled from western bank of Euphrates as Syrian Army liberates last Deir Ezzor districts". 3 November 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  43. ^ France-Presse, Agence (3 November 2017). "Isis dealt twin blows with loss of Deir ez-Zor and key Iraq border post". Retrieved 5 November 2017 – via www.theguardian.com.
  44. ^ "Syrian Army command officially announces Deir Ezzor liberated - video". 3 November 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  45. ^ "48 hours of Al-Bokamal Battle kill 70 members of the regime forces and Syrian, Lebanese and Arab fighters loyal to them and members of ISIS".
  46. ^ "Syrian army captures Islamic State position, eyes final stronghold". 26 October 2017 – via Reuters.
  47. ^ في الطريق إلى البوكمال..القوات الموالية للنظام تسيطر على المحطة الثانية ((التي تو)) الاستراتيجية
  48. ^ "The regime forces escalate their attack and intensify their shelling and advance to become at 40 km away from Al-Bokamal city and ISIS fights desperately to repel the attack".
  49. ^ "Islamic State shores up last stronghold on Syria-Iraq border". 27 October 2017 – via Reuters.
  50. ^ "After it forced the regime forces to retreat in the T2 area, ISIS re-storms al-Quriyah town and recovers parts of it".
  51. ^ "Syrian army, allies step up attacks on last militant bastion in Deir al-Zor city". 29 October 2017 – via Reuters.
  52. ^ "After absorbing the counter attack of ISIS in (T 2) area…the regime forces advance towards Al-Bokamal and become at 50 km away from it".
  53. ^ "The regime forces reach to the nearest area to Al-Bukamal city, ISIS largest bastion in Syrian and violent fighting to reach to the border city".
  54. ^ "scenes of Iraqi forces, Syrian Army meeting at border".[permanent dead link]
  55. ^ "Syrian troops encircle last Islamic State-held town". ABC News. Archived from the original on 13 November 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  56. ^ "Syrian Troops Break Into Last ISIS-Held Town Albu Kamal".
  57. ^ "Subscribe - theaustralian". www.theaustralian.com.au.
  58. ^ "IS jihadists retake nearly half of Syria border town: monitor". France 24. AFP. 10 November 2017.
  59. ^ "IS in fierce fightback to rescue last Syrian urban bastion". France 24. AFP. 11 November 2017.
  60. ^ "Syria army, allies retake Albu Kamal from IS: military source". AFP. 19 November 2017.
  61. ^ Francesco Bussoletti (29 June 2018). "Syria, the Isis pockets of resistance at Deir Ezzor are reduced to two". Difesa & Sicurezza. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  62. ^ a b More casualties raise to about 400, the number of people who were killed by the regime forces and their allies and ISIS members within 13 consecutive days of intense fighting
  63. ^ After holding their control over Al-Bokamal city…the regime forces and their allied start the last stage of ending the presence of ISIS in the west of the Euphrates River
  64. ^ Syrian Regime Seizes Kashme … And Reach Abu Hamam Outskirts Eastern Deir Ezzor
  65. ^ The regime forces and allied forces achieve a significant advancement on the banks of the Euphrates River and reduce the control of the “Islamic State” organization east of Deir Ezzor
  66. ^ Syrian Army keeps rolling in Deir Ezzor, liberates two towns from ISIS
  67. ^ ISIS faces imminent defeat as their Deir Ezzor pocket shrinks – map
  68. ^ Syrian Army eliminates another IS pocket in southeast Deir Ezzor – map
  69. ^ Breaking: Syrian Army liberates another town along the Euphrates River
  70. ^ Syrian Army is on the brink of splitting last IS bastion in Deir Ezzor – map
  71. ^ Breaking: Syrian Army on the cusp of final victory over ISIS in eastern Syria
  72. ^ Damascus to Baghdad: Syrian Army liberates entire western bank of the Euphrates River
  73. ^ Syria army clears last IS pockets west of Euphrates: monitor (AFP, 7 December 2017)
  74. ^ With the continuation of military operations east of Euphrates River, the media of the regime, Russia and their loyal media spread false news about controlling the entire both banks of Euphrates
  75. ^ Complete battle update from southeast Deir Ezzor
  76. ^ “Packs” of ISIS car bombs shatter Syrian Army ranks during final stage of Deir Ezzor offensive
  77. ^ Tens of casualties in the ranks of the regime forces and their allies and the organization in the attacks of the later in Homs and Deir Ezzor countryside to exhaust a confuse its opponents
  78. ^ حوالي 70 قتيلاً من قوات النظام وحلفائها وأكثر من 50 قتيل من تنظيم “الدولة الإسلامية” خلال 12 يوماً من هجمات الأخير بعد خسارته لوجود في غرب الفرات
  79. ^ ISIS kicked out of Euphrates River Valley after big Syrian Army attack
  80. ^ Confirmed: ISIS launches deep infiltration assault on Syrian Army at key gas field in east Homs – details
  81. ^ "Russian soldiers killed in surprise Isis attack in Syria". The Independent. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  82. ^ VIDEO: Dozens of Syrian Army tanks shatter ISIS defensive line in Homs desert
  83. ^ a b c Palestinian “Liwa al-Quds” Initiates Military Operation in Rural Homs
  84. ^ Leith Aboufadel (20 June 2018). "Breaking: Syrian Army fully liberates ISIS pocket in southern Deir Ezzor". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  85. ^ ISIS suffers major setback in Deir Ezzor as Syrian troops rapidly advance – map
  86. ^ ISIL’s offensive proves successful as they roll back Syrian Army troops in west Deir Ezzor

Works cited[edit]