Syrian forces and their allies have taken control of the central town of al-Qaryatain from Islamic State militants, (IS), on Sunday after encircling it over the past few days, said the Syria’s military command.
They said that the army and its allies “fully restored security and stability to the town after killing the last remaining groups of Daesh terrorists” in the town.
Nearly 80 percent al-Qaryatain is under government control, said the Syrian officers. The IS fighters are retreating in cars to the north. The government forces are also bringing in heavy artillery to completely wipe IS’ presence from the area.
Bashar al-Assad the Syrian President has been trying to retake al-Qaryatain and other pockets of IS control to reduce the jihadist group’s ability to project military power into the heavily populated western region of Syria, where Damascus and other main cities are located.
Al-Qaryatayn will become a major strategic loss for IS because of the town’s location along the Damascus-Homs highway.
Syrian media said that the government forces entered the town from a number of directions, and the army had cleared areas northwest of the town where the explosives were planted by Islamic State.
Islamic State still has complete control over Raqqa and runs most of Deir al-Zor province in eastern Syria, which borders Iraq.