Syria war does not end in Deir al-Zor
Syria's army and its allies will keep fighting in Syria after the battle ends in Deir al-Zor province, where Islamic State has its last significant stronghold, President Bashar al-Assad said yesterday.
He also indicated that he might take the war to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which controls more than a quarter of Syria, by saying the war targeted those who seek to "divide and weaken states".
His comments came after a meeting with Ali Akbar Velayati, the foreign policy adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
"The victories against terrorist organizations, starting in Aleppo and not ending in Deir al-Zor, formed a critical strike that foiled partition projects and terrorist goals," Assad's office quoted him as saying.
Assad regards all the groups fighting against the Syrian state as terrorist groups.
The Syrian army, with Russian air power and Iran-backed militias, is waging an offensive against Islamic State in the eastern Deir al-Zor province, mostly on the west banks of the Euphrates River.
The SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, is also battling IS militants in Deir al-Zor. Backed by US-led air strikes and special forces, the SDF has focused on territory east of the river, which bisects the oil-rich province.