The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights learned that violent battles are taking place between the regime force backed by their allied militiamen of Syrian and non-Syrian nationalities against members of the “Islamic State” organization in areas in the Syrian desert, where the violent clashes are accompanied by heavy shelling by the regime forces on the clash areas and the organization-held areas in the area, amid heavy airstrikes on the area as well. The Syrian Observatory learned that the regime forces, after advancing within the past 24 hours in areas south of Ithriyah and going deep into the borders of Hama with Homs province, near Sha’er Mountain in the eastern desert of Homs, managed to achieve a new strategic advancement and managed to meet their forces coming from Sha’er Mountain, and hence the regime forces were able to impose the first siege on the “Islamic State” organization in the Syrian Desert, and encircled about an area of 3 thousand kilometer square controlled by the organization that includes about 50 village and several oil and gas fields and wells, this area is extending from the fronts of Jub al-Jarrah and al-Shomariyyeh Mountain, which is about 50 km square away from Homs city to the fronts of the countryside of the western and northwest countryside of Salamiyah and Sha’er Mountain front. This encirclement comes within the greatest encirclement the regime forces are trying to implement which would besiege the organization in area of 7800 controlled by the organization in the Syrian desert in the provinces of Homs and Hama, and if the regime forces managed to advance in an area of about 25 km which is the remaining distance between their forces coming from al-Kom area in the far northeast of Homs province, and the forces stationed in the north of al-Sukhnah, and the advancement operation is accompanied with continued clashes that have been taking place since days between the regime force backed by militiamen loyal to then against members of the “Islamic State” organization in areas in the eastern countryside of Salamiyah in the eastern countryside of Hama, in which the regime forces managed to advance within the past 48 hours in hills and positions of the organization in the areas of Dakila and Salba.
The SOHR published on Wednesday the 16th of August that the Syrian Desert is witnessing escalated and violent battles in an attempt by the regime forces backed by their allied militiamen of Syrian, regional and Asian nationalities to achieve an advancement aimed at ending the presence of the “Islamic State” organization in the provinces of al-Raqqa, Homs and Hama so that the regime forces restore control over these province after years of losing them. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitored the ongoing violent clashes between both parties in several fronts in the three provinces and the clash areas between both parties, where the clash areas in Hamima area near the administrative borders of Homs – Dier Ezzor, which is close to the Syrian – Iraqi borders, and in the north of al-Sukhnah city, which is the last city controlled by ISIS in Homs province, the southwestern and the eastern area of Al-Kom area, al-Shomariyyeh Mountain area, the vicinity of Jub al-Jarrah which is about 50 km away of Homs city, Sha’er Mountain area, in addition to the area south of Ithriyah, the eastern and the northeastern countryside of Salamiyah, all of them are witnessing battles of varied pace of violence according to the violence of the advancement attempts and the rebel attacks. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has learned that the regime forces supported by their allied militiamen are seeking, through the battles and the successive attacks on these areas, supported by a cover the of Russian raids and the artillery and missile shelling, to disperse the organization and weaken its power by fighting in more than one front at the same time to divide its power and to prevent the organization from sending military reinforcement to the clash areas. The regime forces reduced through the ongoing operations the remaining distance between their forces, coming from al-Kom area and the countryside of al-Raqqa, which are going to meet the regime forces coming from the north and al-Sukhnah area, and the distance between them has become about 25 kilometers. If the regime forces met each other, the organization would be besieged in an area of 7800 square kilometers, the area controlled by the organization in the provinces of Homs and Hama.
Moreover, the “Islamic State” organization, despite its loss of villages, hills, positions and points in its controlled areas and the fronts in favor of the regime, during last month since the 17th of July 2017, the date the regime forces ended the presence of ISIS in the western part of the southern countryside of al-Raqqa, until the 16th of August 2017, managed to restore villages it lost at the southern banks of the Euphrates River, which is located between the west of Ma’dan and the east of Ghanim al-Ali, after a rebel and violent attack, causing human losses in the ranks of both parties. The clashes in several areas in the countryside of Homs and Hama also caused an increase in the death toll in the ranks of the regime forces and ISIS, where it rose to more than 700 the number of those who were killed and documented by the SOHR since the 17th of July 2017, the date the regime forces ended the presence of ISIS members in the western part of the southern countryside of al-Raqqa until the 16th of August 2017, where it rose to at least 298, the death toll of members of the regime forces and militiamen loyal to them of Syrian, Lebanese, Iranian, Iraqi Afghani, and Palestinian nationalities, who were killed during this period in the bombardment, shelling and clashes with members of the organization, including 45 officers of different ranks, and it rose to at least 403, the death toll of members of the “Islamic State” organization, who were killed and documented by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights during the same period, including local and field leaders, and at least 27 members who blew themselves up with explosive belts and car bombs. The shelling and the battles injured tens of both parties with varying severity.