Syria: Mine-clearing underway as SAA prepares humanitarian aid route into Deir ez-Zor *EXCLUSIVE*

Mine-clearing operations were underway on the road between the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) Brigade 137 base and the city of Deir ez-Zor, Thursday, as part of preparations for bringing humanitarian aid into the besieged city. The 4 km (2.5 mile) long corridor was created after SAA units pushed through self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIS,ISIL) lines on Tuesday to link up with previously... Еще-surrounded government troops, breaking a three-year long siege of the government-held enclave of Deir ez-Zor. «We opened this gap, which is 4 km long, and it ranges from 6 to 10 meters wide approximately,» said one SAA soldier assisting with the clean-up operation. He went on to say the operation would enable a convoy of humanitarian aid to access the city and reach those trapped inside as well as the «brave army who is steadfast in Deir ez-Zor.» In recent days, pro-government forces have made rapid advances with tanks and helicopters to push through IS lines. However much of Deir ez-Zor province, including a military base and a number of towns and villages, remains under IS control. Deir ez-Zor, which is situated southeast of IS' former stronghold of Raqqa, has been under siege by IS since 2014.
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