The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces announced the launch of their own operation against the Islamic State in the north of Deir al Zor province near the Iraqi border, aiming to capture areas in the northern and eastern countryside and advance toward the Euphrates river. SDF spokesman Talal Silo said, “In the name of the leadership of the Syrian Democratic Forces, we want to tell our great people and all the people who love peace, the good news of the start of the liberation of the remaining lands of the Syrian Island and east of Euphrates under the name of the Island storm so that these areas get liberated from the dark international terrorist forces that are represented by Daesh (Islamic State),” he said.
The Islamic State in Syria still holds much of Deir al-Zor province and less than half of the city, as well as a pocket of territory further west near the cities of Homs and Hama. But the group has lost most of its self-declared caliphate which from 2014 stretched across swathes of Syria and Iraq. An Intelligence official who monitors the situation in Syria told TV7 that both the US backed SDF and the Russian backed Syrian regime are currently in a race of territory grab from the Islamic State, especially in the strategic Deir al-Zor province with has significant quantities of oil, a reality that may lead to a possible escalation between the two sides.