ISIL offensive in the works against Syrian governments last strongholds?

NOW:
ISIS has been mobilizing equipment and fighters on a large scale for an upcoming operation to seize the last-two large regime controlled areas in the urban center of Deir Ezzor, according to All4Syria.

The anti-regime outlet reported Wednesday that since the beginning of the week ISIS has been undertaking preparations to attack the Jawra and Qusour neighborhoods of the city located on the western banks of the Euphrates.

The report added that ISIS has dubbed the upcoming operation the “Battle of Arafah” in reference to the Muslim Holy Day that marks the second day of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, which in 2015 falls on September 23.

“Columns of ISIS vehicles headed to Syria from Iraq via the border town of Qaim have been sighted entering Syria from the desert despite intensive over-flights by coalition warplanes,” All4Syria cited activists as saying.

“The group has mobilized many of its members and readied its heavy machinery to begin the battle,” the report added.

“There is news that the group intends to enforce mandatory recruitment on the sons of Deir Ezzor province, in a bid to mobilize as many fighters as [possible].”

The Syrian regime has managed to maintain its presence in the city of Deir Ezzor despite the rebel takeover of the rest of the surrounding province in 2013. One year later, the eastern Syrian region was seized by ISIS.

The regime holds most of the city’s neighborhoods along the western banks of the Euphrates—including the Jawra and Qusuor neighborhoods—while ISIS has established a bridgehead in the center of the city as well as outside of the airbase to the southeast.
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An attack coming from Iraq is a little different for ISIL, but the group has shown a keen interest in taking the airbase that is next to Deir Ezzor.  There is no indication that the Russians are going anywhere near that base as of now.  Such an offensive would highlight just how dire the situation is for the Assad regime.  Their ally Iran has not been able to turn the tide and that is probably why both Iran and Syria asked the Russians to get involved.

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