THE Syrian army was poised to strike across the Euphrates river yesterday in its race to reach the Iraqi border before US-backed Kurdish forces.
The army took Jafrah, outside Deir Ezzor on the river’s west bank, surrounding Isis fighters stuck in districts of the city freed from the death cult’s siege last week.
Unconfirmed reports said Syrian and allied Russian forces were preparing pontoon bridges to cross the Euphrates for the first time in four years.
On the other side of the river Syrian Democratic Forces fighters advanced to within three miles of the city through its northern industrial zone. That was despite an Isis counterattack launched on Monday night with suicide car bombs.
The Russian Defence Ministry claimed the Syrian army now controlled 85 per cent of the country.
Al-Qaida’s Syrian branch Hetesh has suffered a blow, with at least five allied factions breaking from it, days after 10 commanders defected to the government side.