Syrian Army declares liberation of last Islamic State stronghold in Homs province

Damascus: The Syrian army said it fully liberated on Saturday the city of Sukhneh, the last Islamic State stronghold in Homs province.

Syrian army soldiers take their positions on a street in Sabina suburb which Syrian troops captured, south of Damascus, Syria. Despite global outrage over the use of chemical weapons, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government is successfully exploiting divisions among the opposition, dwindling foreign help for the rebel cause and significant local support, all linked to the same thing: discomfort with the Islamic extremists who have become a major part of the rebellion. AP

Syrian army soldiers. AP

Tens of extremists were killed and many of their weaponry destroyed as the army finished combing operation and dismantling explosive devices left by the IS in the city, Xinhua news agency reported.

The declaration comes a week after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Islamic State withdrew from Sukhneh city in Homs towards Deir al-Zour province, which will be the next target of the Syrian army.

Sukhneh had already fallen to the army as a result of the IS withdrawal, but reports said the city was jam-packed with explosive devices and roadside bombs, which delayed the victory declaration.

The progress was part of a wide-scale military offensive to drive out the Islamic State from the Syrian Desert.

Taking control of Sukhneh would enable the army to break the Islamic State siege to the eastern province of Deir al-Zour near Iraq, as the city is located on the road between the ancient city of Palmyra and Deir al-Zour.

The Russian warplanes have been supporting the ground Syrian troops and allied fighters in their push to clear the desert of Islamic State.

Updated Date: Aug 12, 2017 14:53 PM

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