IS control is decreasing by the day in eastern Syria, watchdog says

BEIRUT, Weedah Hamzah (dpa) - Islamic State's control of villages in eastern Syria is decreasing day by day, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told dpa on Monday.
"Islamic State control of areas and villages should have been finished earlier this month from eastern Syria, but they still control eleven small villages in the Deir al-Zour Province," Rami Abdel-Rahman said.

Hajeen, a small village located along the Euphrates River south of Deir al-zour, and ten other settlements are controlled by the militants, he said.
Islamic State fighters are present in the Syrian provinces of Homs, Hama, al-Hassakeh and areas at the outskirts of the capital Damascus.
The jihadist group still controls 3 percent of Syrian territories, Abdel-Rahman said.
Earlier this month, Russia announced that it had accomplished its military mission in Syria with 2,500 square kilometres of Syrian territory liberated from Islamic State over the past week.
Russia has repeatedly claimed mission accomplished in Syria since entering the multi-sided civil war as an ally of the Syrian regime.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, supported by Russia, have made major territorial gains in recent months against the Western-backed opposition, as well as militant groups that include Islamic State.
Meanwhile, in north-western Syria, intensified regime strikes on rebel-held areas in the eastern countryside of Idlib and the northern countryside of Hama killed seven people and wounded 34 others, the monitoring group.
It added that planes carrying TNT barrel bombs carried out more than 75 strikes on areas in the eastern and south-eastern countryside of Idlib and the north-east of Hama.
The bombing campaign targeted heavily populated civilian areas, the watchdog said.
Government forces have recently set their sights on the province of Idlib, a key rebel stronghold in north-western Syria.
Idlib has an estimated 2 million residents, including those displaced from other provinces.
It is the only province in Syria under rebel control, but it is dominated by an al-Qaeda-linked insurgent faction, complicating ceasefire efforts.
Syria's crisis began with peaceful anti-government demonstrations in March 2011.
The conflict soon spiralled into a multi-sided civil war that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced about half of Syria's pre-war population of 22 million.

Monday, December 25th 2017
Weedah Hamzah

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