RNA - The army soldiers, backed up by heavy Russian airstrikes, commenced a powerful attack on ISIL's positions along the broad front stretching from the small town of al-Sukhnah in Eastern Homs to the town of al-Shoula in Western Deir Ezzur on Friday morning.
Most of the hilltops and points initially captured by ISIL around al-Sukhnah and the M20 highway have been re-secured by the Syrian Army and the terrorist group now find themselves pinned down in al-Shouleh where a high-pitched battle within and around the town is now taking place.
Despite claims from opposition sources that al-Sukhnah and the town of Kabajeb were captured by the ISIL, the fact remains that ISIL never took full control of the settlements (coming nowhere close to doing so in the case of al-Sukhnah) and that the Syrian Army currently holds full control of both.
30 ISIL terrorists have so far been killed in the course of the Syrian Army’s heavy attack.
The Syrian army also continued its advances in other key provinces across Syria.
A military source said on Friday that the Syrian warplanes and helicopters carried out a number of combat sorties over ISIL's movements along a highway connecting Deir Ezzur and Palmyra cities to each other, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.
The source said that the army aircraft and choppers targeted heavily ISIL's positions and movements in the battlefield along Deir Ezzur-Palmyra highway and nearby regions in Western Deir Ezzur and Eastern Homs, killing and wounding a large number of terrorists and destroying their military equipment in large scale.
The source further said that the Syrian Army troops are now carrying out mop-up operations to hunt the remaining pockets of ISIL terrorists in the region and restore security to the highway.
The source added that the army men also fended off ISIL's heavy attacks on the government forces' positions in Humeimeh and T3 regions South of the town of al-Sukhnah in Eastern Homs, killing and wounding scores of terrorists.
Further reports said that the Syrian Army dispatched a large number of soldiers and military hardware to Western Deir Ezzur to face ISIL's large-scale attacks on the pro-government forces' defense lines in the region.
The Tiger Forces units departed from Qomhana in Northern Hama to the Homs province's town of al-Sukhnah late Thursday afternoon, and will be tasked with retaking the regions along the Deir Ezzur-Sukhnah Highway and West of the provincial capital which were seized by the ISIL during their large-scale attack on Thursday.
The ISIL proved on Thursday that they may not give-up the Deir Ezzur province without a fight, as militants launched a powerful offensive against the Syrian Army troops and their allies in the Western part of the province.
In the meantime, the Syrian military dismissed claims that the ISIL terrorist group cut off a strategic road connecting Deir Ezzur to Palmyra city in Homs province.
Meantime, the army men continued to advance against ISIL along a road connecting Deir Ezzur to al-Basireh region on the Eastern bank of the Euphrates River and captured a chunk of the road and a part of the region.
The army soldiers laid siege on ISIL in al-Hosseiniyeh settlement and the remaining region on the Eastern bank of the river with their recent advances, completing circle of forces around Deir Ezzur city.
Also, fierce clashes were underway between the army and ISIL in al-Sina'ah region and other neighborhoods in the city.
Also, local sources confirmed on Friday that a large number of ISIL commanders fled the battlefield following the Syria Army's rapid advances in Deir Ezzur, pushing the terrorist front in the region to total collapse.
The sources said that two groups of ISIL engaged in heavy fighting in the town of Albu Kamal in Southeastern Deir Ezzur, leaving a number of casualties on both sides.
In the meantime, the ISIL intensified its suicide attacks on army positions in several flanks following the rapid advances of the army and the Syrian Democratic Forces in Deir Ezzur province, the sources said.
They added that continued escape of ISIL commanders from the battlefield pushed the terrorist group towards complete collapse.
Just as the ISIL’s reign in Eastern Syria began to effectively diminish, the terrorist group also launched an all-out counteroffensive on different fronts of the oil-rich province.
Reports said on Friday that the army soldiers engaged in fierce clashes with the ISIL in the Northeastern outskirts of Deir Ezzur city and managed to move towards the village of Hatlah Fouqani after taking control over the village of Hatlah Tahtani.
Also, the army's artillery and missile units and aircraft pounded ISIL's positions in Hatleh region, Badiyeh (desert) Khusham, and in the neighborhoods of al-Huweiqa, al-Roshdiyeh and al-Kanamat, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.
A tribal leader in Eastern Syria said on Friday that hundreds of ISIL militants joined the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) amid intensifying tension between the Syrian Army troops and the US-backed SDF in Deir Ezzur province.
The Arabic-language al-Watan paper quoted Sheikh Mohammad Amlah al-Daham, the leader of al-Akidat tribe that is one of the largest tribes in Syria as saying that almost 500 ISIL gunmen that had fled the battlefields joined the SDF in the town of al-Shaddadi in Southern Hasaka amid the Syrian Army troops' rapid advances in Deir Ezzur.
Al-Daham further told al-Watan that the SDF in cooperation with Washington were to take control over Syria's oil and other resources, adding, "We, Syrian tribe-men, do not believe in the SDF and the US as they just want to hoist SDF's flag in the country."
The Syrian Army stormed ISIL's defense lines in Eastern Homs and managed to push the terrorists back from more positions in the Central parts of the country on Friday.
The army men and popular forces continued to advance against ISIL in Eastern Homs and managed to capture the village of Rasm al-Aqidat in Jubb al-Jarrah region after taking control over the village of al-Showeiha.
The army soldiers fortified their positions after they completed mop-up and demining operations in the newly-captured villages.
The Syrian Army and their allies deployed only 12km North of Shandakhiyah as government troops say, "ISIL’s presence in Eastern Homs is nearly over."
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov said on Friday that numerous “chronic” mistakes of the US planes, such as strikes against civilian objects, and the lack of humanitarian aid led to a humanitarian catastrophe in Syria’s Raqqa.
“We are registering a humanitarian catastrophe in Raqqa (and in Mosul before this), caused by the lack of urgent measures to deliver humanitarian and to create corridors to evacuate civilians, not to mention the multiple ‘chronic’ mistakes of the US planes, including strikes on civilian objects,” Syromolotov told RIA Novosti.
The official added that the US strategy to fight ISIL had proven to be fully inefficient.
“We are pointing out to Washington the complete inefficiency of US anti-ISIL (Daesh) strategy,” he told the agency.
According to the minister, the Russian side was deflecting and would deflect the US attempts to hamper the eradication of the terrorist hotbed in Syria.
"In this context, we will continue to emphasize extremely clear that we have harshly deflected and will continue to deflect the US attempts to hinder the quick and final elimination of the terrorist hotbed in Syria, slow down the offensive of the Syrian government troops," the deputy minister added.
Moreover, he also slammed as absurd "the situation where an external force which is in Syria illegally, without the permission of the Syrian government, starts defining geographical boundaries for the actions of the Syrian army which is carrying out the operation to liberate its own country of terrorists."
"The command of the Russian group in Syria has notified its US partners in advance regarding the borders of its operation in Deir Ezzur against the ISIL, Syromolotov said.
“The dialogue is maintained on the level of military experts. In particular, the command of the Russian group in Syria notified via a special channel of communications its US partners regarding the borders of the anti-ISIL operation in Deir Ezzur,” he pointed out.
ISIL pulled forces back from two more regions in Eastern Hama under heavy attacks by the Syrian Army troops on Friday.
The ISIL suffered another setback in al-Salamiyah region in Eastern Hama as Syrian Army units managed to liberate two more towns under the terrorist group’s occupation.
Pro-government forces won back the towns of Hamadi Umar and Rasm al-Qunbar near the town of Aqayrabat, shrinking the ISIL’s pocket in Eastern Hama.
ISIL terrorists have come under the army's siege in a small region in Eastern Hama and have no way out after the army's recent advances.
The Syrian and Jordanian Armed Forces gave a last ultimatum to the terrorists to retreat from Nassib border-crossing in Dara'a province fast, a Syrian media outlet reported on Friday, adding that Damascus and Amman were insisting on the immediate reopening of the border-crossing.
The Arabic-language al-Watan daily quoted Khalid al-Khatb, one of the well-informed sources in talks with the terrorists in Dara'a as saying that Amman announced to the terrorist commanders, deployed in Jordan, that the Nassib border-crossing would be reopened soon whether they agree or not.
The daily added that the Syrian Army also underlined its own conditions for the reopening of the border-crossing.
Al-Khatib told al-Watan that the Syrian Army dispatched a large number of forces and a large volume of military equipment to the Southern city of Dara'a, adding that if the terrorists do not comply with the army's conditions, the border-crossing would be reopened by military force.
In the meantime, militant-affiliated news websites quoted the sources as saying that the Syrian government gave an ultimatum to the terrorists in the region, warning that the pro-government forces would start military operations to reopen the border-crossing if the terrorists refuse to accept their terms.