A Kurdish military source in Syria has said the Kurdish-Arab led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) entered Deir ez-Zor province for the first time on Tuesday.
Speaking to Reuters the source said the group had entered Deir ez-Zor from the north and captured several villages in continued attempts to encircle the Islamic State’s de-facto capital in Syria, Raqqa.
The development is important because roads in the north and west of Raqqa had been blocked by the SDF and in the south by the destruction of bridges, leaving only the road to Deir ez-Zor in the southeast, from which jihadist militants are fleeing.
The Wrath of Euphrates’ operation’s third phase was launched on 4 February and the SDF has reached within 4km of Raqqa’s centre. The 50,000 strong group is supported by the global anti-IS coalition and consists of Assyrian and Turkmen factions as well.