The first detachment of 40 de-miners has already been deployed to Russia's Hmeimim air base in Syria, says Russia's Defence Ministry.

A Syrian woman flashed the sign for victory in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor on September 10, 2017, as Syrian regime forces continue to press forward with Russian air cover in the offensive against Daesh across the province. 
A Syrian woman flashed the sign for victory in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor on September 10, 2017, as Syrian regime forces continue to press forward with Russian air cover in the offensive against Daesh across the province.  (AFP)

Russia is to send 175 minesweepers to defuse mines in Syria's Deir Ezzor, Interfax news agency quoted Russia's Defence Ministry as saying on Monday. 

The first detachment of 40 de-miners has already been deployed to Russia's Hmeimim air base in Syria, the ministry said.

Syrian regime forces and US-backed militias converged on Daesh in separate offensives against the militants in the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ezzor on Sunday.

The advances have been accompanied by deadly air strikes, with a monitor saying 19 civilians were killed on Monday in suspected Russian air raids northwest of the city.

The strikes come a day after the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Russian strikes killed 34 civilians southeast of the city, as they fled across the Euphrates River.

The UN estimates that some 93,000 people were living in "extremely difficult" conditions in regime-held parts of Deir Ezzor, supplied by air drops to the air base.

Daesh still holds much of Deir Ezzor province and half the city, as well as a pocket of territory near Homs and Hama further west, however, and is mounting counter-attacks.

The remaining 40 percent of the city still held by the regime-- and home to around 100,000 civilians -- was under crippling Daesh siege.

Control of Deir Ezzor

The regime forces sent massive reinforcements to territory under its control in Deir Ezzor on Monday ahead of a final push for Daesh-held half of the eastern city.

Backed by Russian air power, regime troops have breached Daesh's sieges, captured the strategic Jabal Thardah region and expanded their control to half of Deir Ezzor city, according to the Observatory.

Residents of Deir Ezzor on Monday cheered the breaking of an Daesh siege of the Syrian city by the Syrian army and its allies, video published by a Hezbollah-run media unit showed.

The regime forces seized a final stretch of highway linking the eastern city of Deir Ezzor to the capital Damascus on Sunday in further advances against Daesh, the media unit reported.

Troops moving in from the west linked up with forces already in Deir Ezzor at the Panorama entrance to the city, bringing the whole road under their control for the first time in years, it said.

They were now looking to make a push into the eastern Daesh-held part of the city, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor.

"Huge military reinforcements, including equipment, vehicles and fighters have arrived in Deir Ezzor ahead of an attack to push Daesh from the city's eastern neighbourhoods," said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

"Russian and Syrian regime warplanes are striking IS [Daesh] positions in the city and its outskirts," he added.

US-backed force advances

Fighters from the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Saturday announced a separate offensive to capture Daesh territory east of the river.

By Monday, the SDF's Deir Ezzor Military Council (DEMC) had seized much of the province's northeast and were just a few kilometres (miles) away from the river.

The SDF said it had reached Deir Ezzor's industrial zone, just a few miles to the east of the city after launching operations in the area in recent days.

Abdel Rahman said they had advanced to six kilometres (four miles) from its eastern banks, at a point across the river from Deir Ezzor city.

The SDF is also battling Daesh in their de facto capital Raqa with backing from the US-led air coalition.

Although the SDF had yet to reach Deir Ezzor city itself, tribal figures affiliated with the alliance said they were laying the groundwork for governing the city after Daesh's defeat.

"After liberation"

The statement, published by the SDF's media council, announced the establishment of "a preparatory committee that will discuss the basis and starting points for a civil council for Deir Ezzor".

According to the statement, consultations would aim to reach a "formulation that will express the aspirations of all our people in Deir Ezzor".

The Deir Ezzor Civil Council "will be responsible for running the city immediately after its liberation".

It made no mention of regime forces and did not say whether the civil council would coordinate with, or rival, government authorities.

The SDF has said its assault in Deir Ezzor province is not in coordination with Russian or regime forces.

But the coalition, the SDF, the regime and Russia have agreed on a "de-confliction line" in northeastern Syria to prevent the two offensives from clashing.

The SDF, an alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters, and a majority of the SDF is made up of fighters from YPG – a wing of the PYD which Turkey considers an affiliate of its local terror group, the PKK.

Source: AFP