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Syrian troops close to breaking ISIS siege in eastern city

Syrian army soldiers (file photo)

BEIRUT — Syrian government forces and their allies are on the verge of breaking a nearly three-year siege imposed by the Islamic State group on parts of the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, opposition activists and state media said Monday.

Breaking the siege on Deir el-Zour would mark another victory for President Bashar Assad, whose forces have been advancing on several fronts against IS and other insurgent groups over the past year.

Syrian troops and allied militiamen have for months been advancing toward Deir el-Zour, the provincial capital of the oil-rich province of the same name. Government forces are besieged in a handful of neighborhoods as well as a nearby airport.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday that the advancing forces are a few hundred meters (yards) from a besieged, government-held air base known as Brigade 137. If they reach the base, they will be able to lift the siege.

State TV reported that government forces are only three kilometers (2 miles) away from breaking the siege. State news agency SANA reported the “collapse” of IS defenses in the area.

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