French troops deployed in Syria's troubled Deir az-Zour

French troops deployed in Syria's troubled Deir az-Zour
The French military are reportedly fighting in Syria's eastern Deir az-Zour province, suggesting an increase in their presence in the region.
2 min read
19 May, 2018
Deir az-Zour has struggled to rid itself of IS militants [Getty]
The French army on Saturday launched six batteries of artillery in Deir az-Zour, northeastern Syria, suggesting they are fighting alongside the US-backed Kurdish-majority Syrian Demoncratic Forces (SDF) against the Islamic State (IS) group in the troubled province.

Sources close to the SDF said that troops launched the artillery from the village of al-Baghouz Fawqani which they had seized a week earlier from IS control.

French forces in Syria are currently deployed in Manbij, Hasakah, Ayn Issa and Raqqa, alongside the SDF.

On Friday, a French military delegation visited a site west of Raqqa in northeast of Syria, reportedly with the aim of setting up a security camp in the area.

Raqqa, once the de facto capital of the IS "caliphate", was liberated from the group in October 2017.

Local sources said that French soldiers came from Manbij and will assist with the training of local intelligence officers.

French troops were originally deployed in northern Syria on April 4 to the US base in Manbij, and reportedly intend to establish their own military base in the region.

Earlier this month, the US-backed SDF resumed their offensive to seize remaining parts of Deir az-Zour controlled by Islamic State militants.

The army had paused the battle after Turkey launched an offensive in January against the Kurdish Afrin region in northwestern Syria. 

Syrian fighters, backed by US airstrikes and troops, have dealt heavy blows to IS but the militants still hold a swathe of land along the desert frontier with Iraq. As they lose more territory of their self-proclaimed "caliphate", militants are expected to revert to guerrilla tactics.

As a result of the pause in the offensive, IS stepped up attacks in the region over recent weeks.