By Naveed Malekafzali (Twitter)
Deir ez-Zor - The Syrian Army, following the breaking of the siege of the provincial capital city, has crossed the Euphrates River and taken territory on the other banks from ISIS forces. At the time of this report, it has been confirmed with news footage via Russia's state media network Russia 24 that the Syrian Army has crossed one branch of the Euphrates onto Sakr Island. The military is confirmed to have taken the eastern half of the island, and heavy clashes to take the western half of the island are ongoing.
Sakr Island, where the SAA first entered after crossing the Euphrates, is an island contained within the Euphrates River and part of Deir ez-Zor City proper, was considered at one point one of the army's strongest defense points. The island was swiftly taken by ISIS fighters in May 2015 at a speed that surprised many. The organization commemorated the taking of the island with a video entitled "Sakr Island, Taken by Allah's Bounty".
Unconfirmed reports, with no pictures having been released, have also said that government forces have also crossed the main branch of the Euphrates into northern Deir ez-Zor province and captured at least two villages, Madhlum and Marat having been named. If the unconfirmed reports are verified, this would mean that the SAA has crossed the US/SDF-set de-confliction line set as the Euphrates River. The SDF has said they are willing to fight government forces if necessary if they cross the Euphrates.
Government forces crossing the Euphrates has long been the pivotal goal of the Syrian government in the civil war, having had their territorial control pushed south of the river very early on in the conflict. The Syrian Army had reached the Euphrates River in Aleppo province in March of this year, but were prevented from crossing to capture further territory on the eastern bank due to SDF presence.