Russia: Air Strike Kills 4 Senior Islamic State Commanders in Syria

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For the past three years, locals have depended on air drops from a military air field controlled by one of the Syrian Army's brigades. Moscow also has long-range S-400 missile defence systems and an array of other surface-to-air missiles at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia, about 70 kilometres (43 miles) from Thursday's strike location.

The race to reach the Iraqi border will shape future regional dynamics, determining whether the United States or Russian Federation and Iran will have more influence in the strategic area once the extremist group is defeated.

The airstrike is the furthest north since Russian Federation joined the war in September 2015 with a major air campaign to aid Assad's forces. The US is eying a win in Deir al-Zour, as it would allow it to keep a check on Iranian expansionism. Three months into the battle, they have liberated around 60 percent of the city, and much more hard urban fighting still lies ahead.

On Saturday afternoon, state-run SANA news reported Syrian troops had reached the military airport east of the city ending an ISIS siege on their forces there.

Since 2014, IS has held swaths of Deir al-Zoir province, and about 60 percent of the provincial capital.

Russia's Ministry of Defense said Friday it has killed four Islamic State group leaders in an airstrike outside the eastern Syria city of Deir el-Zour. The region has some of Syria's largest oil fields, whose revenue is vital to the state's dried coffers.

Meanwhile, Syrian government forces and their allies, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, seized an oil field from militants on the other side of the Euphrates. They expanded control significantly over the areas adjoining the city.

Following a request by the Kremlin, US military assets have stopped shadowing a Daesh convoy stuck behind lines of advancing Syrian army troops, APA reports quoting Sputnik.

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Thursday's strike comes a day after a United Nations probe found the Syrian government responsible for a chemical attack in April in northern Syria that killed more than 80 people.

A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) looks at a damaged bridge in eastern Raqqa during an offensive to retake the city from ISIS. The U.S. -led coalition has denied the allegations.

"We do monitor and watch where they are and where they are going at the same time as they move closer to the middle of the Euphrates Valley", Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the USA -led coalition against IS, told VOA on Thursday.

Washington has welcomed Syrian troops' fight against IS. The armed forces also regained full control over several settlements in the east of Homs province.

"We are in the killing-ISIS business.

We should not expect a rapid victory for the Syrian army in Deir el-Zour", Robert S. Ford, a former USA ambassador to Syria, told VOA.

Abu Khawlah said US-led coalition air strikes had already helped his forces advance "around 30 kilometres (20 miles)" in the first day of "Operation Jazira Storm".

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