The West might believe that Mosul and Raqqa are the final frontiers in the battle against the Islamic State (ISIS), but the terrorist group has, over the last six months, pulled resources and people from those frontlines to fortify the lesser-known province of Deir ez-Zor. Located in Syria’s southeast near the Iraqi border, Deir ez-Zor has been largely under ISIS control since 2014.
Conveniently located between Raqqa and Mosul, Deir ez-Zor is strategically positioned to serve as a military and supply hub for ISIS. Flanked by mountains and divided by the enormous Euphrates river, the town is a natural fortress, which will make it more difficult for ground troops to launch a surprise attack, and airstrikes alone may not be very effective.
Deir ez-Zor also holds the richest oil supply in all of Syria, which could help ISIS recover financially after losing nearly 30 percent in oil revenues and taxes from
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