Syrian military vehicles take position on the outskirts of Deir al-Zour city in eastern Syria on Sept. 5, 2017. Following days of intense battles on the outskirts of Deir al-Zour in eastern Syria, the Syrian forces and allied fighters broke Tuesday the three-year siege of the Islamic State (IS) to government-held parts in the city. (Xinhua/Ammar Safarjalani)
DAMASCUS, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army on Sunday captured the Tharda Mountains in the southern rim of Deir al-Zour province in eastern Syria, securing the airbase of Deir al-Zour, a military source told Xinhua.
The capture of the Tharda Mountains has secured the vicinity of the airbase of Deir al-Zour, as the mountains function as the airbase's first defense line.
A day earlier, the Syrian army and allied troops broke the Islamic State (IS) siege on the airbase, just a week after lifting the IS' three-year siege on the capital city of Deir al-Zour.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said that the United States had bombed Syrian army in the Tharda Mountains in September 2016, during which 90 soldiers were killed.
The U.S. strike facilitated the IS control over the mountains in 2016.
The extremist militants had suffered big losses due to the advance of the Syrian forces in Tharda Mountains, the source said, adding that many IS commanders had fled to the city of Bukamal in the countryside of Deir al-Zour.
The source said that to capture the mountains, Syrian forces had launched offensives from two directions; one from the Panorama roundabout at the southern entrance of Deir al-Zour capital city, the other one from the Tyem energy field in the southern countryside of Deir al-Zour province.
The progress comes as Syrian army on Sunday seized full control of the main road from the capital Damascus to Deir al-Zour city in eastern Syria, stripping the IS of key areas along the road.
On Sept. 5, the army succeeded in breaking the three-year siege by IS on Deir al-Zour city from its western entrance at the Brigade 137 base.
Later on, the Syrian army continued to advance toward the graveyard area and the Panorama roundabout, while other forces advanced toward the city from the desert region south of Deir al-Zour.
The first batch of troops reached the airbase, while the second one captured the Teym field and reached Deir al-Zour, capturing thus the entire road to Deir al-Zour.
Deir al-Zour is a key stronghold for IS and of a strategic geographic importance due to its proximity to Iraq. The U.S.-backed Deir al-Zour Military Council group has launched an offensive on IS in the northern countryside of Deir al-Zour, capturing several towns since starting their attack on Saturday.