Syrian army declares capturing last IS stronghold in Homs


DAMASCUS, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army said it fully captured the city of Sukhneh on Saturday, the last Islamic State (IS) stronghold in Syria's central province of Homs, state news agency SANA reported.

The army finished combing the city and dismantling explosive devices left by the IS militants, said the report, adding that tens of the extremists were killed and many of their weaponry had been destroyed.

The official declaration comes a week after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the IS militants withdrew from Sukhneh, which located in eastern countryside of Homs, toward the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, which will be the next target of the Syrian army.

At the time, the city had already fallen to the army as a result of the IS withdrawal, but reports said the city was jam-packed with explosive devices and roadside bombs, which delayed the victory declaration.

The capture of Sukhneh came after the Syrian government forces successfully besieged the city during the operation last week.

The progress was part of a wide-scale military offensive to drive out IS from the Syrian Desert.

Capturing Sukhneh would enable the Syrian army to break the IS siege to the eastern province of Deir al-Zour near Iraq, as Sukhneh is located on the road between the ancient city of Palmyra and Deir al-Zour.

The Russian warplanes have been supporting the ground Syrian troops and allied fighters in their push to clear the desert of IS.



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