Assad forces raft across River Euphrates

Syrian forces begin their advance on the area of Bughayliyah on the northern outskirts of Dayr al Zawr in northwestern Syria

"Today, Syrian government forces, reinforced by a unit of the 4th Armoured Division and with the support of Russian aviation, crossed the Euphrates River in the Deir Ezzor region", the ministry said in a statement.

The coalition confirmed to CNN that regime and Russian troops had crossed the Euphrates River, bringing them closer to US -backed forces operating in eastern Syria.

Read the whole story from Reuters.

Earlier, army units, in cooperation with the allied forces, continued to advance on all fighting axes against ISIL terrorist organization and established control over new points on the outskirts of Deir Ezzor city and its countryside.

It said "shock troops" had already captured several villages on the river's eastern banks from IS and were pushing further east.

The SDF has advanced to within kilometres of the river, while the Syrian army has retaken much of the city, most of it on the western side.

Such a deal would appear to go against what Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon Monday when asked if the USA -led coalition was ceding ground in Syria to the regime following reports that regime troops backed by Russian airpower had crossed the Euphrates River.

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The pro-government forces crossed the river using makeshift bridges, and advanced within 3 miles (5km) of positions held by the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces, the FT said.

Syrian troops with Iran-backed militias have closed in from the west since last week, while the SDF advances from the east.

The Euphrates slices diagonally across the province of Deir Ezzor, an oil-rich region that borders Iraq.

The U.S. -led coalition said Saturday the strike was on a target east of the Euphrates River in Syria near Dayr Az Zawr, a position known by Russian Federation to contain SDF fighters and coalition advisors.

Mustafa Bali, a spokesperson for the SDF and head of its media center in Ain Issa told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday that his forces did not document any crossing by Syrian forces to the eastern strip. On Monday, elite Syrian troops crossed the river, Russia's defence ministry said. "The decision to establish and close temporary bases is determined by operational requirements and the progress of the campaign", US Army Col. Ryan Dillon said.

Meanwhile, Deir Az Zor's military airport in eastern Syria, which the Syrian army recaptured this month from ISIL, began functioning again on Monday for the first time in almost a year, Syrian state media said.

The Syrian government estimates about 70,000 people have survived on erratic air drops of food and supplies during the siege.

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