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ICC Note:

The last major ISIS stronghold in Syria, Deir al-Zour, has fallen. This means that in both Iraq and Syria, ISIS no longer controls any territory of significance. However, pockets of ISIS continue to operate in both countries. By removing ISIS from Deir al-Zour, the militants are greatly restricted from moving between Iraq and Syria. This also means that the number of human trafficking routes that ISIS used to move Christian and Yazidi sex slaves between the two countries is significantly reduced. Still, multiple questions remain. Many families wonder, what will happen to those still in captivity or abandoned in some other country? Also, now that ISIS no longer controls a strategically significant city, the civil war in Syria has only become more complex. How this will shape the upcoming weeks is a situation that displaced Syrians are watching closely, especially Christians who are displaced from Deir al-Zour.      

 

11/03/2017 Syria (BBC) –   The Syrian army has retaken Deir al-Zour, the last major stronghold of so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria, state TV says.

“The city is completely liberated from terrorism,” the state TV report said.

Other reports said the Syrian army and its allies were clearing the last pockets of resistance from IS.

IS had held most of the city since 2014. It was of strategic importance because of its proximity to the border with Iraq.

Some 350,000 civilians in the province have been forced to flee their homes during weeks of fighting.

IS fighters are also facing a similar push by Iraqi forces on the other side of the frontier.

The success of the Syrian Government forces inevitably raises the potential for clashes between them and US-backed, predominantly Kurdish units who hold a significant swathe of northern Syria.

It is a powerful reminder that while the war against the IS “caliphate” is well on the way to being won, the situation on the ground in Syria is becoming ever more complex.

With Iran eager to consolidate its influence, questions remain as to the Trump administration’s future policy direction now IS is collapsing. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has consolidated his position and looks to squeeze opposition forces in the months ahead.

The cross-border province was also a symbol of the jihadists’ intention to eradicate all the region’s frontiers and lay to rest the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement, resented by many Arabs.

Last month a US-backed alliance of Syrian fighters pushed IS out of Raqqa,

In September, the Syrian army broke a siege by IS in part of Deir al-Zour that had trapped an estimated 93,000 civilians in an enclave on western bank of the Euphrates since 2015.

The militant group is now confined to just a few pockets in Deir al-Zour province.

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