In one of the largest offensives ever to be undertaken in Syria, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), announced on Saturday that they will be making a push to capture the eastern city of Deir Ezzor from ISIS. The SDF, which is already fighting ISIS in Raqqa, is made up of Kurdish and Arab militias.

Deir Ezzor is a strategic town for ISIS as it sits at the center of Syria's oil fields, which provides the terror group with a vital source of income. The city is also Syria's getaway to Iraq and one of the key towns along the Euphrates river.

Territorial losses

The territory controlled by ISIS in Syria continues to shrivel as the terror group currently faces numerous challenges which include a shortage of supplies, fighters, and escape routes.

Between July and August, SDF fighters fought their way into the old city of Raqqa and are now in control of two-thirds of the city. Raqqa was the headquarters of ISIS and was used to plan and coordinate terror attacks abroad.

Another major victory came this week when the Syrian army reached the western front of Deir Ezzor and managed to free the 137th Brigade base which in the past has survived on air drops since the ISIS siege in the area, three years ago.

The Syrian army in a victory statement said the city would now be used as a launching pad to free other ISIS held areas along the Iraq border.

Separate advance

Syrian government troops backed by Iran and Russia are also making a separate advance on ISIS in Deir Ezzor, and are set to come into contact with the US-backed SDF. This brings to fore the importance of this city with the two forces advancing in the same direction.

There are also concerns that the two sides might eventually clash considering the tensions the two main backers have against each other.

US ally

The SDF is America's primary ally in Syria, and in the fight against the terror group that is responsible for the loss of innocent lives and unrest in the middle-east. The fighters enjoy broad military support from the US which includes weapons, training, and logistical support.

While the US-backed fighters have made tremendous gains against ISIS, they still have an uphill task of liberating Deir Ezzor, considering that they still have another battle front in Raqqa.

Whoever reaches the border with Iraq first between the Russia-Iran-backed Syrian army and the US-backed SDF, will definitely have a more strategic influence especially once ISIS has been defeated.

The country is divided into pockets controlled by the SDF, the Syrian government, ISIS and Syria's non-Islamist opposition.