During the raid on al-Assad hospital in Deir Ezzor two days ago, ISIS fighters simultaneously seized most of the Deir Ezzor cemetery which is located a few hundred meters south of the hospital, along the M7-highway. Islamic State’s media outlet Amaq News said 10 government soldiers were killed during skirmishes at the Christian cemetery. Upon entering the cemetery, ISIS militants were quick to pose for pictures in which they sent to Amaq News to publish for propaganda reasons.
However, ISIS fighters since withdrew from the site as news emerged of their fighters being defeated at neighbouring al-Assad hospital. Meanwhile, the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) Major General Issam Zahreddine was seen yesterday in a picture at Sadcop fuel station, less than one kilometer from Deir Ezzor cemetery, thereby suggesting the military situation to be relatively secure. Although the provincial capital of Deir Ezzor city is largely Sunni, the city is also home to a large Christian mostly Armenian minority. The Christian districts are located in the government controlled western part of the city, while the Sunni suburbs are split between the SAA and ISIS. Some 100.000 civilians live in government-held areas of Deir Ezzor, facing an ISIS-imposed siege which has caused food prices to rise some 80%. If the Islamic State is to capture Deir Ezzor city entirely from the SAA, the Christians are expected to be massacred of expelled, similar to the scenarios in Raqqa and Mosul.