by Jazeh Miller
The Islamic State group has regained control of its last stronghold in Syria’s eastern Deir al Zor province. Militants got back the Albu Kamal area after militias backed by Iran announced that they had won the town just a few days before. The Iranian-backed militias were forced to retreat after being ambushed.
The Lebanese Hezbollah, a Shiite group, joined with Shiite fighters from Iraq, and they went across the border into Syria. Militants that were holding concealed positions in tunnels in the centre of the city took them by surprise.
The city was the scene of Russian bombings in which scores of civilians were killed and many buildings were destroyed over the course of several months. The Shiite fighters took part in a ground offensive there.
The Iranian-backed militias were not expecting the surprise attacks from the Islamic State group which included the use of rockets and suicide bombers.
Only last week, the Syrian army announced that it had defeated the Islamic State saying that many militants had been killed and dozens more had surrendered. It also said that the capture of the city was the moment the Islamic State’s reign that had lasted over three years had ended.
Although the Syrian army has not commented on the recapture of the city by the Islamic State, the Hezbollah group said that there were heavy air strikes on Daesh hideouts near Albu Kamal.
Elite forces from Hezbollah led the offensive in Syria with the help of Afghan and Iraqi Shiite militias, arriving via Iraq. Sources state that as a result of the attacks, many of the fighters supporting the Syrian regime were killed.
The city is a major communications and supply centre for the militants and was a big win for the militias that are backed by Iran. The recapture by the Islamic State has been a big blow to Iran because it has disrupted its plans for the strategic route it wants between Damascus and Baghdad. The route is essential in its supply of arms to Syria where it is backing the Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad.
Iran’s fuelling of the Syrian civil war is carried out by providing Assad with fighters and it is causing mainstream Sunni rebels to become radicalised. The struggling Syrian army depends heavily on Shiite militias to get back areas controlled by Sunni insurgents.
The Islamic State group has been struggling in recent times because of the sheer number and force of offences aimed at it.
Last weekend, Russian jets continued to heavily bomb Albu Kamal. Locals say that there has been a minimum of 50 civilian deaths – most of whom were women and children.
Iranian militias then shelled towns to the east of the city. Hundreds of families had taken refuge in these towns after the chaos in Albu Kamal started.
It is believed that Russian forces targeted the city with intensive air strikes.
If the Syrian civil war is to end soon, it is imperative for the Iranian interference to be put to an end. The war would have ended years ago if Iran had not intervened.