TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Syrian government troops advanced 13 kilometers Sunday in the eastern province of Deir ez-Zor as they pressed an offensive against Daesh (ISIL or ISIS), a report said.

Syrian troops pushed into the southwest of the oil-rich province from the desert town of Sukhnah, in Homs province, The Daily Star reported.

In June, Syrian troops broke into Deir ez-Zor from a border region with Iraq and earlier this month they breached it from the neighboring province of Raqqa, but moving just 4 kilometers in.

Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based observatory, confirmed the news and said Sunday’s advance was the first carried out from the Badia desert region.

Since May, Syria’s army has been conducting a broad military campaign with Russian support to recapture the Badia that separates the capital Damascus from Deir ez-Zor.

Most of Deir ez-Zor has been held by Daesh since 2014, and militants have also besieged government forces and civilians inside the provincial capital Deir ez-Zor city since 2015.

Troops surrounded the area of 2,000 square kilometers in the Syrian desert Thursday.

Fierce clashes erupted in that area Sunday, the Observatory said, adding that the region was also struck by more than 50 airstrikes overnight. The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media (SCMM) and the Observatory said Saturday that government troops and their allies are now in control of a wide area between the Sukhnah and Shaar to the west.

In recent months, Syrian troops and allied fighters have advanced on three fronts against Daesh under the cover of Russian airstrikes, with Deir ez-Zor as the main target, where the Takfiri militants have imposed a siege for years on a small government-held pocket.

The SCMM said military experts are now dismantling explosives left behind by the militants in Badia.

The Syrian army secured Sukhnah this month. It was the last major town in Homs province that Daesh-held.

Syria has been gripped by civil war since March 2011 with various terrorist groups, including Daesh, currently controlling parts of it.

According to a report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the conflict has claimed the lives of over 470,000 people, injured 1.9 million others, and displaced nearly half of the country’s pre-war population of about 23 million within or beyond its borders.