Aided by Rus­sia, Syr­ian forces con­sol­i­date mil­i­tary gains

Journal Pioneer - - CLASSIFIEDS/WORLD -

OKEIRBAT, Syria - Gov­ern­ment troops and their al­lies in­ten­si­fied an of­fen­sive Fri­day against Is­lamic State mil­i­tants in cen­tral Syria, try­ing to con­sol­i­date their con­trol on the area. The Syr­ian troops and Rus­sian mil­i­tary po­lice pa­trolled the dusty and des­o­late streets of Okeirbat, which was re­cap­tured from the ex­trem­ists on Sept. 2.

A mil­i­tant coun­terof­fen­sive was crushed Thurs­day amid in­tense Rus­sian airstrikes. Dis­tant thuds of ar­tillery were heard in Fri­day af­ter­noon and evening, in­di­cat­ing the per­sis­tence of the fight­ing.

The mil­i­tants had con­trolled Okeirbat since 2014, and Rus­sian mil­i­tary of­fi­cials showed visit­ing jour­nal­ists a bombed­out ware­house that was used by the ex­trem­ists to re­pair and for­tify tanks in the once-thriv­ing town of 10,000 peo­ple, the largest held by IS in Hama prov­ince.

The fight for Okeirbat, which lies on a strate­gic route link­ing western Syria to IS strongholds in the east, re­flects the group’s des­per­a­tion to re­tain its pres­ence in Hama prov­ince in cen­tral Syria.

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