Two days ago, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced that ISIS recaptured Al-Bukamal city in the eastern governorate of Deir al-Zour in Syria - its last stronghold in the country and the most strategic one - from the Syrian regime and its allies which they entered on Friday declaring victory.
A number of tribal leaders and local residents in the city have confirmed it.
On the other hand, Russia denied, stressing that the Syrian regime and its allies did not withdraw from the region, and that all rumors are “pure lies”.
The observatory quoted tribal leaders and residents saying that ISIS fighters had regained control Al-Bukamal city after ambushing Iranian-backed factions led by the Hezbollah, which had taken control of the city a few days earlier and forced it to withdraw.
They added that ISIS’s fighters, who were hiding in tunnels in the center of Al-Bukamal city, had surprised the Lebanese Hezbollah fighters united with Iraqi Shi'ite fighters who had entered Syria across the border.
The Shiite fighters attacked the city in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor after heavy Russian bombing that resulted in dozens of civilian deaths and widespread destruction.
Ambush and ISIS deceit
Qahtan Ghanem al-Ali, a tribal leader, spoke about how the city was recaptured by ISIS, when their fighters made an unexpected attack using suicide bombers and missile attacks, after deceiving the Iranian factions that ISIS had left the city.
Syrian forces on Thursday had declared victory over ISIS and had said that they had killed many militants, while dozens of them had surrendered. They also announced that thay had gained control over Al-Bukamal pointing to the disintegration of ISIS who had control over the city for three years.
Al-Bukamal is a major supply and communication center for extremists between Syria and Iraq, and it represents a major prize for the Iranian-backed factions.
The observatory and residents said that planes believed to be Russian intensively bombed Al-Bukamal city and its suburbs for three days till Sunday, with at least 50 civilians, mostly women and children, dead since Friday.
In response to their losses, the Iranian factions withdrew by attacking villages east of the city where hundreds of families fleeing from Al-Bukamal had found temporary shelter in.
In one of the air raids on Al-Sukkaria town east of the city, at least 30 people, mostly women and children, were killed, as per what two former residents of the city said.
On the other hand, the commander of the Russian military forces in Syria on Sunday denied the news of the withdrawal of the regime forces from city Al-Bukamanl on borders with Iraq after having control over it on Friday.
The Russian military official from Syria told the Russian Information Agency Novosti that: “All that was announced claiming that the regime forces had been withdrawn away from the city is not true. Since Friday, the whole city in under the control of the Syrian regime forces supported by its allies.”
The Russian military spokesman added: “Currently, the search inside the city and its suburbs is about to be finalized. The soldiers are clearing terrorists’ hotspots that are scattered around the city, and they are hunting down the individual terrorists who are now facing the Syrian army alone, and after that we will start clearing the area from explosives and mines which ISIS usually leaves behind after being defeated.