Agence France Presse – ISIS jihadists are closing in on the government-held Deir al-Zor air base in eastern Syria, nearly surrounding its beleaguered garrison, an activist group said Friday.
ISIS fighters seized the village of Al-Jaffrah, adjacent to the base, leaving it surrounded except for a narrow corridor to the west, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
ISIS forces control most of Deir al-Zor province, but half of its capital remains in government hands, along with the military airport.
The oil-rich province lies between ISIS-controlled Raqqa province and the Iraqi border, and is a key prize for the jihadist group, which declared an Islamic “caliphate” straddling the two countries in June.
ISIS launched a renewed assault on the military airport earlier this week.
The fighting has killed at least 30 government troops and militia, as well as 27 ISIS fighters, over the past 48 hours, the Observatory said.
Two of those killed on the government side were captured and beheaded, the Britain-based group said.
Further east, at least 15 jihadis were killed in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike on an ISIS convoy near the Albu Kamal crossing on the border with Iraq, it added.