No sooner had I finish my last article on the bitter fight between the Syrian army and ISIS for the key town of Al-Sukhnah, then news came of a collapse of ISIS defences in the town.
The report from the highly reliable and well-informed Al-Masdar news agency reads as follows
The Islamic State’s (ISIL) reign of terror in Al-Sukhnah is near its end, as the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) swarms the city from several axes.
According to a soldier from the 5th Corps, the Syrian Army has entered Al-Sukhnah from three different axes, forcing the Islamic State militants to retreat towards the city-center.
The soldier added that the battle for Al-Sukhnah could end tonight because the Islamic State is surrounded from several axes and greatly outnumbered by the Syrian Army.
Al-Sukhnah is a strategic city that is located northeast of Palmyra and along the main highway to Deir Ezzor.
Liberating Al-Sukhnah will put the Syrian Army in position to enter the Deir Ezzor Governorate from its western axis for the first time in over two years.
As is often the way in war the collapse, when it came, was sudden. The event which seems to have precipitated it was the failure of a counter-attack by ISIS against the Syrian troops attempting to liberate the town. It seems that over the course of the fighting ISIS’s commander or “emir” in the town – Mu’awiya Al-Hadirmi Al-Zabarjandi – was killed, demoralising the ISIS fighters further and leaving them in a state of confusion. The result is the collapse in ISIS resistance in the town which now appears to be underway.
If ISIS really did plan to hold off the Syrian army at Al-Sukhnah then this attempt looks like it is about to fail. Indeed if ISIS really did redeploy fighters to hold on to the town then this looks to have been a miscalculation, taking fighters away from other fronts and putting them in a place where most of them are likely to be killed by the Syrian army.