The Syrian army and its allies are advancing rapidly on a pro-government enclave and military base in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor that have been besieged by Islamic State for three years. Lucy Fielder reports.
Syria's army and allied forces battling their way towards a besieged garrison in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor, Making rapid advances as the Islamic State forces surrounding it collapse. About 93,000 people are trapped in the government-controlled enclave, which includes the military garrison, an airport and much of the city of Deir al-Zor. For years, they have lived on food air-dropped by the U.N.. With the Syrian army and its allies now trying to break through Islamic State lines right on the edge of the army base, people in the enclave have reportedly taken to the streets to celebrate. Russian air power has helped in this battle as in a string of other victories won by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over the past year. As fortunes change in Syria's civil war, Islamic State is on the retreat there and in neighbouring Iraq. It seized swathes of both countries in 2014 and declared them a caliphate, ruled from Mosul. Now it has been driven out of Mosul, and in Syria, it is falling back on territory it holds in the Euphrates Valley, on either side of Deir al-Zor. Pro-government forces are also fighting to eradicate a large Islamic State enclave in central Syria.