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Syria's Deir al-Zor air base working again - state media, monitors

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Syria's Deir al-Zor air base working again - state media, monitors

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BEIRUT (Reuters) – The Deir al-Zor military airport in eastern Syria, which the Syrian army recaptured this month from Islamic State, began functioning again on Monday for the first time in nearly a year, Syrian state media and a monitoring group said. The military base is seen as a valuable asset for the Syrian army as it presses its campaign against Islamic State in Deir al-Zor province. Two planes landed and took off from the base on Monday, state TV reported – the first such activity there since September 2016, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said. Monday’s flights carried aid to Deir al-Zor, Syrian state media and the British-based Observatory said. On Sunday, the United Nations said it had halted costly airdrops to the city as a land corridor opened. The U.N. has estimated that some 93,000 people were living in “extremely difficult” conditions in government-held parts of Deir al-Zor during the Islamic State siege and were supplied by air drops to the base. Syrian government forces and their allies broke Islamic State’s three year siege of Deir al-Zor earlier this month, reaching the government-held enclave in the city and the adjacent air base. The Syrian army and U.S.-backed militias are fighting separate offensives against Islamic State in the province, the jihadist group’s last major stronghold in Syria.

(Reporting by Sarah Dadouch; Editing by Richard Balmforth)
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