Syrian Troops Capture 4 Villages East of Euphrates River

BEIRUT (AP) -
Men ride a motorbike along a deserted street filled with debris in Deir al-Zor, eastern Syria. (Reuters/Mohamed al-Khalif/File Photo)

Syria’s state news agency said that government forces have captured four villages east of the Euphrates River in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour.

SANA reported that the villages were held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, adding that they are close to the provincial capital also called Deir el-Zour.

Crossings into the east bank of the Euphrates River in eastern Syria by government forces have been rare.

Much of Deir el-Zour province was held by the Islamic State terror group but over the past year Syrian government forces captured most areas west of the Euphrates while SDF fighters took areas east of the river.

On Feb. 7, pro-Syrian government fighters attacked SDF positions east of the river and faced a ferocious U.S. counterattack that left dozens, including Russians, dead.