Syria: US-backed Kurdish and Arab forces advance on IS locations in Deir Al-Zour

Observers say the incursion into the province is the biggest yet

BBC – A US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab rebels has advanced into territory held by so-called Islamic State (IS) in Deir al-Zour province, eastern Syria.

Kurdish military sources said the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had captured some 15 villages from IS.

Unidentified air strikes killed 11 people in one IS-held village, though it was unclear if this was linked.

The SDF hopes to cut IS’s supply lines from the oil-rich province to the group’s stronghold Raqqa, in the north.

Syrian government forces in Deir al-Zour have also been battling to push out IS, which commands most of the province as well as its capital of the same name.

The latest development comes just days before UN-sponsored talks between the Syrian government and opposition in Geneva, Switzerland – the first such meeting in nearly a year.

The UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has played down hopes for the talks taking place on Thursday, which he says are aimed at exploring the possibility of a political process.

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