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Syrian government forces hold fifth of strategic desert, reach Iraqi border

Syrian government forces have recaptured more than a fifth of the country's strategic Badiya desert from Daesh Takfiri terrorists, reaching the eastern border with Iraq for the first time since 2015.
"In cooperation with our allies, our units have captured a large number of locations and strategic positions in the Badiya, amounting to an area of 20,000 square kilometers," the general command of the Syrian army announced in a Saturday statement.
"This important achievement represents a strategic shift in the fight against terrorism and a launching pad to broaden military operations in the Badiya and along the borders with Iraq," it added.
Badiya extends over some 90,000 square kilometers from central Syria to the Iraqi and Jordanian borders.

Syrian government forces celebrate after they break terrorists siege on the northern town of Zahra on February 4, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

On Friday, Syria’s official news agency, SANA, reported that army forces had set up positions northeast of the al-Tanf garrison, used by the US-led coalition.
The US has declared the surrounding 55 kilometers around the southeastern town of al-Tanf a de-confliction zone, in which only forces allied to Washington are allowed entry. The US has not received any permission from Damascus for the move.
Over the past months, the US-led forces have struck Syrian government forces near al-Tanf three times.
According to the Saturday statement by the Syrian army, the US-led forces carry out the attacks against Syrian forces in an attempt to slow down their battle against Daesh.
"We once again warn of the dangers of repeated attacks by the so-called international coalition and its attempts to obstruct the advances of the Syrian army and its allies," the statement said.
Moscow also calls the de-confliction zones set by Washington illegal, arguing they are not endorsed by Damascus. 
The US decision to establish the de-confliction zone comes as Russia, with backing from Turkey and the Islamic Republic of Iran, brokered a deal for establishing "de-escalation zones" in mainly militant-held areas of Syria during ceasefire talks in the Kazakh capital city of Astana in early May.
The plan covers the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, northeastern areas of the western coastal province of Latakia, western areas of Aleppo province and northern areas of Hama province.
It also applies to the Rastan and Talbiseh enclave in Homs province, Eastern Ghouta district in the northern Damascus countryside as well as the militant-controlled southern part of the country along the border with Jordan.

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