Syrian army declares liberation of last IS stronghold in Homs

Damascus, Aug 12 (IANS) The Syrian army said it fully liberated on Saturday the city of Sukhneh, the last Islamic State (IS) stronghold in Homs province.

Tens of extremists were killed and many of their weaponry destroyed as the army finished combing operation and dismantling explosive devices left by the IS in the city, Xinhua news agency reported.

The declaration comes a week after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the IS withdrew from Sukhneh city in Homs towards Deir al-Zour province, which will be the next target of the Syrian army.

Sukhneh had already fallen to the army as a result of the IS withdrawal, but reports said the city was jam-packed with explosive devices and roadside bombs, which delayed the victory declaration.

The progress was part of a wide-scale military offensive to drive out the IS from the Syrian Desert.

Taking control of Sukhneh would enable the army to break the IS siege to the eastern province of Deir al-Zour near Iraq, as the city is located on the road between the ancient city of Palmyra and Deir al-Zour.

The Russian warplanes have been supporting the ground Syrian troops and allied fighters in their push to clear the desert of IS.

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