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Executive Summary for September 6th

We review the key developments in Syria, including ISIS counterattacks in Deir Ezzor, Russia launching cruise missiles against ISIS in east Syria and the findings of a recent survey showing that most Russians do not support Moscow’s intervention in the conflict.

Published on Sep. 6, 2017 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

ISIS Attacks Advancing Forces in Deir Ezzor

The so-called Islamic State launched a counterattack against advancing pro-government forces west of Deir Ezzor city on Tuesday, only hours after the militants’ siege of the city was breached, a war monitor reported.

According to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), ISIS militants launched four suicide bombings near a government-held garrison known as Brigade 137 on the western outskirts of Deir Ezzor city. The attack killed an unspecified number of pro-government fighters, according to the monitoring group.

Pro-government forces advancing west of Deir Ezzor reached the outskirts of the city on Tuesday and joined forces with soldiers who had until then been besieged by ISIS in the government-held garrison for almost three years. The advance marks the first time since 2015 that pro-government forces have breached the perimeter of ISIS’s siege on government-held areas in Deir Ezzor.

Tuesday’s counterattack targeted areas near where the Syrian troops had joined forces. According to the SOHR, ISIS is trying to strengthen fortifications around Brigade 137 in an attempt to push back advancing troops.

The militants “did not give up easily and used lots of suicide car bombs yesterday, but could not resist much,” opposition activist Omar Abu Laila told the Associated Press on Tuesday. Laila, originally from Deir Ezzor and in contact with people there, now lives in Europe.

More than half of Deir Ezzor’s provincial capital is still under siege by ISIS, including a nearby military air base in the south of the city and three adjacent neighborhoods.

ISIS also still controls much of Deir Ezzor province, including its strongholds of Mayadin and Boukamal, along the Euphrates River.

Syrian troops and allied fighters have been heading toward Deir Ezzor from multiple directions for months as part of a government campaign that aims to drive militants from the eastern province.

Russia Fires Cruise Missiles at ISIS in Deir Ezzor

A Russian warship based in the Mediterranean fired a number of cruise missiles at ISIS positions in eastern Syria on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

The attack targeted a fortified area around the al-Shola district, roughly 19 miles (30km) southwest of Deir Ezzor city. Most of the militants are believed to hail from Russia and the former Soviet republics.

The strike destroyed a “communications center, command centers, ammunition depots and a repair shop for armored vehicles” in the area. The attack also killed an unspecified number of ISIS militants, the AP said, citing Russia’s defense ministry.

Despite Tuesday’s strike, the al-Shola district is still under ISIS control.

Majority of Russians Do Not Back Moscow’s Intervention in Syria: Survey

A survey published on Tuesday found that the majority of Russians are not on board with Moscow’s military intervention in Syria, Newsweek reported.

A survey conducted by the independent Russian pollster Levada Center for the Interfax news agency found that less than a third (30 percent) of respondents want Russia to continue its military intervention in support of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile, nearly half of the respondents (49 percent) think Russia should end its military operations in Syria and around 22 percent were undecided.

Russia announced its military involvement in Syria in 2015. Russian president Vladimir Putin called for a scaling down of Russia’s involvement in Syria only six months into the campaign but Moscow has since stepped up deployment.

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