The "Syrian Democratic Forces" (SDF) have launched an attack on the last ISIS stronghold east of the Euphrates river, days after taking control of the border town of al-Baghouz.
Military sources familiar with the progression of battles in the area said on Sunday 20 May that conflict was ongoing on a number of fronts, and that the "SDF" were attempting to enter deep into Hajin town. Hajin is considered the largest town remaining under ISIS control, and the last stronghold of the group east of the Euphrates.
Sources told Enab Baladi that advances by Kurdish militants were coinciding with airstrikes from the international anti-ISIS coalition. At the same time, there have been unconfirmed reports of the participation of French forces in ground battles.
ISIS has not commented on the development of its military operations on the east bank of the Euphrates since the "SDF" announced the launch of its current operation at the beginning of May.
In an interview with Enab Baladi several days ago, the leader of the "SDF"-allied "Deir Ezzor Military Council", Abu Khoula, said that his forces were then advancing toward the town of Hajin. ISIS is currently encircled in Hajin, while the "SDF" has taken over al-Baghouz on the Syrian-Iraqi border.
Abu Khoula told Enab Baladi that the "Deir Ezzor Military Council" is also currently undertaking a combing operation in al-Baghouz to remove mines and eliminate any remaining ISIS cells. According to Abu Khoula, the battles are ongoing in coordination with Iraqi forces along the border strip.
Hajin is located on the eastern bank of the Euphrates and straddles the river in three places where houses and farm areas are spread (in the Sahel Faydi area). It is 110 km east of Deir Ezzor city, and 35 km from al-Bukamal. The area in between is 250 square km in size, excepting the adjacent desert area.
Hajin town is an urban centre including several villages and agricultural areas. Among these are Granij, al-Kashkiya, Abu Hamam, al-Bahra, Hawamih, Abu al-Khater, and Abu al-Hasan.
At the beginning of last week the "SDF" took control of an 18 square km area from ISIS, with the support of coalition aircraft and French military personnel recently deployed in Deir Ezzor Governorate.
In a statement regarding the campaign released at the beginning of May, the "SDF" said it would take control of areas that ISIS still held after forces had been deployed in line with the requirements of the campaign.
The statement added that the military action would be supported by coalition air cover, and would represent the final phase in the "Jazira Storm" operation to secure the Syrian-Iraqi border and end the ISIS presence in the area.