The Syrian army pushed into the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor on September 5th, breaking the three-year-old siege of a government-held enclave by Islamic State (IS). It is a victory for Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s blood-soaked dictator, and yet another defeat for the jihadists, whose self-proclaimed caliphate is shrinking fast. American-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters have driven IS out of most of Raqqa, its putative capital, 140km to the west. The group is expected to make its last stand in a ribbon of towns, including Deir ez-Zor, along the Euphrates river.
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