A member of the Syrian government forces secures a road for a military convoy in the desert area of Saba' Biyar, in southeastern Syria near the border with Iraq, on May 10, 2017, as fierce clashes are reported in the region. / AFP / STRINGER
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With hostilities subsiding on Syria's western battlefronts, President Bashar Assad's army is seeking to head off U.S.-backed forces fighting militants further east, analysts and military sources in Damascus say.The SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, is focused on driving Daesh out of the militants' de facto Syrian capital, Raqqa, but analysts expect they will turn toward Syria's coveted eastern border next.First, troops were working through territory in Hama province, which lies adjacent to the province of Deir al-Zor.Second, government fighters to the south in Homs province would sweep east from the ancient city of Palmyra, which they recaptured from Daesh in March in a Russian-backed offensive. The first two assaults would aim to break Daesh's two-year siege on Deir al-Zor city, where a Syrian military expert says 7,000 government troops are trapped.
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