By Leith FadelAugust 2, 2017
BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:15 P.M. local time) – Minutes ago, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) reached the first buildings in the strategic city of Al-Sukhnah, a military source told Al-Masdar News.
Led by their 5th Corps and 18th Tank Division, the Syrian Arab Army captured all of the remaining hilltops and farms at the southwestern part of the city before reaching the first buildings in Al-Sukhnah’s southwestern sector.
According to a soldier from the 5th Corps, the Syrian Army is still advancing despite some heavy resistance from the Islamic State (ISIL) militants and look to take control of the city in the next 24 hours.
The source added that the Islamic State has already moved many of their fighters from Al-Sukhnah to the Deir Ezzor Governorate, as they prepare for the next major battle in eastern Syria.
Now where is Al-Sukhnah? For this vital information we turn to maps at SouthFront:
NOTE: If you can understand this map you have a problem
Now this is so much clearer isn't it
But this still doesn't tell us where Al-Sukhnah actually is. So we'll have to go hat in hand to Wikipedia
Al-Sukhnah (Arabic: السخنة, also spelled al-Sukhanah) is a town in eastern Syria under the administration of the Homs Governorate, located east of Homs in the Syrian Desert. Nearby localities include Mayadin and al-Asharah to the east, al-Taybah and Raqqa to the north, Salamiyah to the west, Arak and Tadmur (Palmyra) to the southwest.Now is there anything in Al-Sukhnah besides sand?
According to Syria Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), al-Sukhnah had a population of 16,173 in the 2004 census. It is the administrative center of the al-Sukhnah nahiyah ("subdistrict") which consists of six localities with a collective population of 21,880 in the 2004 census. The town's inhabitants are predominantly Sunni Muslims. Al-Sukhnah has attracted hundreds of residents from nearby villages in the past century and is currently a processing center for natural gas.
So maybe it's the gas business there that attracted Islamic State.
To return to SouthFront, from the report today accompanying the maps (no time stamp):
According to pro-government sources, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) began its offensive on ISIS in the strategic town of Sukhna in the eastern Homs countryside.
The SAA captured the mountain of Tunotur west of Sukhna, allegedly stormed the southwestern entrance of the town and captured several buildings.
From its side, the Syrian Ministry of Defense confirmed that the SAA had captured all ISIS fortifications south and west of Sokhna [we'll assume that is a typo] town.
Opposition sources also claimed that Russian and Syrian warplanes launched dozens of air strikes against ISIS in Sukhna and its vicinity. Furthermore, Russian attack helicopters provided close air support to the SAA during its advance.
According to the Syrian media, a majority of the ISIS fighters withdrew from Sukhna last week, but dozens of them decided to stay in the town and try to defend it. Most of these fighters are suicide bombers and snipers.
Experts believe that the SAA will be able to capture Sukhna soon. However, the SAA may suffer notable casualties during this difficult operation.
Although AMN reported (above) that IS has moved many of their fighters from Al-Sukhnah to the Deir Ezzor Governorate, many IS commanders are absconding from Deir Ezzor Governorate, if FARS sources are to be believed. Are the sources making this up? Who cares; it's fun to read.
August 2, 2017 - 11:58 local time [I think that's AM time]
The sources said that Commander of ISIL Hasaba (monitoring-security forces) Abu Othman al-Mayadeeni has escaped from the town of Albu Kamal in Southeastern Deir Ezzur.
The sources said that ISIL has appointed Abu Khotab al-Araqi as al-Mayadeeni's successor, adding that unprecedented security crisis has covered Albu Kamal after the escape of al-Mayadeeni.
The sources went on to say that ISIL has set up more security checkpoints in Albu Kamal to control the crisis.
According to reports, ISIL has dismissed Qatibeh al-Hanoud nom de guerre Abu Bakr, one of the most important security members of the group in Deir Ezzur.
The reports further said that heavy fighting has erupted between the Syrian and non-Syrian members of ISIL in Albu Kamal after security crisis began in the town.
Local sources in Eastern Syria reported on Tuesday that a large number of ISIL members were cutting ties with the terrorist groups amid rapid advances of the Syrian Army troops in Homs and Raqqa province in their push towards Deir Ezzur.
The sources said that a number of ISIL members in the town of Albu Kamal cut relations with the group and fled the town after the terrorist group ordered them to move to the frontline.
The sources added that ISIL, in a decree, confiscated the properties of those who escaped, and established several checkpoints to arrest those on the run.
The army's advances in Eastern Homs and in Southeastern Raqqa towards Deir Ezzur intimidated a large number of ISIL commanders, inciting them to flee the battlefield.
So ends my Syrian war report for today.