By Oliviero Reusser
During the day of the 14th of August, Syrian government forces, led by the elite unit "Tiger Forces", took full control of the al-Qawm town and the surrounding oasis. This newest advance comes just two days after the same units captured the al-Kadir village, located 10km north of al-Qawm, after a daring airborne operation behind ISIS lines. Now only about 30km remain to connect with other government forces north of the town of al-Suknah and eventually besiege a major ISIS pocket in the areas of eastern Hama and northern Homs.
Using their regular strategy, Syrian army units advance along the highway and paved roads in order to capture fortified and urban territory that they can hold. ISIS has little resistance to offer against the many armors and air support provided by Russia and are forced to retreat from their positions in the desert. As mentioned before, the goal of this operation is to link the troops from southern Raqqah, which just captured al-Qawm, with the troops in eastern Homs, which just captured the town of al-Suknah. Connecting their lines would besiege a huge ISIS-held area which has no way to connect with their main territory around the city of Deir ez-Zor. Further strategy for the government will then be first, to reach Deir ez-Zor via one of the highways going east or advancing along the southern bank of the Euphrates.
At the same time, other Syrian army units are also advancing in the countryside east of Salamiyah, the logistical hub of Uqayribat, situated along the Highway 45 which connects Salamiyah and Palmyra.