The Syrian army has plans to launch offensive strikes on Deir Ez-Zor and Raqqa – two Islamic State strongholds in the country’s northeast – with the help of Russian air forces, Alexei Borodavkin, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva said Friday.
Borodavkin, who is also a permanent representative to other international organizations in Geneva, said the army has been successful fighting IS and other terrorist groups, like al-Nusra Front, in the past and hopes to continue those efforts.
"In line with UNSC (U.N. Security Council) Resolution 2254, the cease-fire regime in Syria does not apply to Daesh, al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups … As a result of operations by the Syrian armed forces with [the] support of Russian combat aircraft [the Syrian] city of Palmyra has been liberated, and now further offensive operations are being planned in the direction of Deir Ez-Zor and Raqqa," Borodavkin told reporters in Geneva, according to Russian state media.
A cease-fire between the Syrian government and opposition forces officially went into effect on February 27 following peacekeeping efforts by the United States and Russia. The truce, though, does not apply to the terrorist groups.
According to Borodavkin, if those militant groups would like to be a part of the cease-fire agreement, they must sign the relevant documents, report their exact location and disengage from al-Nusra Front forces, because, at present, they are, unfortunately, heavily mixed on the battlefield.”
Deir Ez-Zor, an important strategic location because of its vicinity to a number of oil fields, has been under IS control for several months.