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Syrian army sources say they have seized Islamic State stronghold

By Sam Howard
Syrian army sources say they have seized Islamic State stronghold
A handout photo made available by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows Syrian army units advance in Al-Shula on the southwestern outskirts of Deir Ezzor, Syria, undated but issued September 7, 2017. Al-Mayadin city is located within Deir Ezzor province. EPA-EFE/SANA Handout

Oct. 14 (UPI) -- The Syrian Army and allies have regained control of al-Mayadin, a city in Deir Ezzor province that had become a stronghold for the militant Islamist group, Syrian military sources said.

The pro-Syrian government, Middle East-based online newspaper Al-Masdar News reported that the siege of al-Mayadin began about a week ago and ended Saturday morning. The state-owned Syrian Arab News Agency confirmed the takeover.

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Al-Masdar called al-Mayadin the Islamic State's "de facto capital."

The eastern Syria city has been the site of brutal executions under Islamic State control. In 2015, five men in the city were crucified for accusations they ate during daylight in the month of Ramadan. The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights said this spring that the Islamic State carried out a mass execution of 33 people between the ages of 18 and 25 about five miles southeast of the city.

The U.S.-led international coalition in Syria had also targeted al-Mayadin and its surrounding area in airstrikes. Airstrikes in May reportedly killed more than 100 family members of the Islamic State, including at least 42 children, while the Pentagon said another in April killed a major Islamic State associate.

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