The Syrian Desert witnesses ongoing violent battles between the regime forces backed by their allied militiamen of Syrian and non-Syrian nationalities against the “Islamic State” organization. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights learned that the violent clashes were concentrated in the last 48 hours in the deserts of al-Sukhnah and Palmyra and in the eastern countryside of Hama and near the administrative border of Deir Ezzor and Homs, where the clashes were accompanied by an exchange of heavy shelling between both parties and bombardment of warplanes, and the most violent clashes were concentrated in areas in the countryside of Salamiyah city, and other areas near the Syrian-Iraqi border. The bombing, exchange of shelling and the clashes between both parties caused more human losses in the ranks of both parties, where it has risen to at least 40 including at least 3 officers, 2 of them are Brigadier-General, the number of members of the regime forces and their allied militiamen of Syrian and non-Syrian nationalities, who were killed in the last 48 hours in the shelling and the clashes in areas in the desert of Palmyra, the administrative border of Homs – Deir Ezzor and the eastern countryside of Hama, while it has risen to at least 29, the number of members of the organization who were killed in the shelling and clashes that took place in these areas during the same period.
The Syrian Observatory published that on the 17th of July 2017 the regime forces managed to achieve an important advancement and control oil fields in the eastern half of the southern countryside of Al-Raqqah, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights learned that this important advancement allowed the regime forces to reach the outskirts of the strategic mountain of al-Bashri, which is a rugged-terrain mountain and one of the most important strongholds of the “Islamic State” organization in Syria, where this mountain witnessed the visit of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi -the leader of the “Islamic State” organization- to meet with military and security commanders of the organization earlier, the mountain is extending within the administrative borders of 3 provinces and is one of the important centers of which the organization has been depending on in the supply operations and securing commanders.
This advancement comes hours after the important advancement achieved by the regime forces and militiamen loyal to them of Syrian, Iranian Iraqi and Lebanese nationalities; in the southern and southwestern countryside of Al-Raqqah, during which the regime forces were able to end the presence of the “Islamic State” organization in the western half of the southern countryside of Al-Raqqah and in the western countryside of Al-Raqqah, also the regime forces have recovered hundreds of kilometers from the “Islamic State” organization in the past 72 hours, where the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights published that the regime forces, with intensive shelling on the organization’s positions, managed to achieve an important advancement and control oilfields in the southern countryside of al-Raqqa near the administrative border of al-Raqqa with Homs, while the members of the organization withdrew from other oilfields west of the advancement area, and the regime forces started to cleanse the area of which the organization has withdrawn. With this advancement, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitored the end of the presence of the “Islamic State” organization in the western and southwestern countryside of al-Raqqa city, and the “Islamic state” organization only controls an area extending from the south of al-Kasrat area, to the SDF-held line adjacent to the Euphrates River to the east of al-Resafa and to the administrative borders of Homs and the administrative borders with Deir Ezzor, in addition to parts of al-Raqqa city.
The Syrian Observatory published on the 14th of July that the regime forces coming from the countryside of al-Raqqa managed to enter for the first time the administrative borders of Homs province within a large wide scale operation in which the regime forces aim to advance and reach al-Hail oilfield area which the regime forces have controlled days ago, and if the regime forces managed to advance from the north to the south in an arrow-shape way for a distance of 70 kilometers starting from the administrative border of Homs and al-Raqqa, which the regime forces have entered today, and reached al-Hail oilfield area, the regime forces would have fully besieged organization-held area of more than 11 thousand kilometers square in the provinces of Homs, Hama, and al-Raqqa, and the organization would have two options either to surrender or get into the siege and fight till the end if it didn’t withdraw like what happened in the province of Aleppo by the end of June 2017.