Syrian soldiers celebrated on Wednesday (September 6) the breaking of a siege by the Islamic State in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor. Emily Wither reports.
Celebrations in eastern Syria after the breaking of a brutal Islamic State siege. On Tuesday (September 5) government forces reached troops besieged by the militants for years. Tanks and fighters pressed quickly towards the government-held enclave in the city - opening a land route linking it to the outside. Residents lined the streets chanting pro-Assad slogans They said they'd been waiting for this moment for three years. Thousands of civilians and Syrian soldiers had been trapped in the enclave since 2014. The UN estimated nearly 100 thousand had been living in "extremely difficult" conditions. Supplies were being air dropped in. The city is a strategic prize and a significant victory for the Syrian President. Deir al Zor, in the east, is Islamic State's last major stronghold in Syria. On the Euphrates river it was once the centre of the country's oil industry. Islamic State still hold half of the city and much of the province. But they are hemmed in on all sides and are retreating to towns near the Iraq border. The army and its allies pushing forward with the help of heavy artillery and Russian air strikes. The noose around Islamic State is tightening.