A man holds bread as he walks along a damaged street filled with debris in Deir al-Zor, eastern Syria February 19, 2014. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi/File Photo
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With a sudden lunge through jihadist lines, the Syrian army and its allies Monday came to within 3km of relieving the Euphrates city of Deir al-Zor, where Daesh (ISIS) has besieged 93,000 civilians and an army garrison for years.Deir al-Zor's provincial governor told Reuters he expected the army could reach the city within hours.Daesh then overran rebel positions and encircled the army's enclave in the city in 2014 .Daesh fighters stepped up efforts this year to seize the enclave before the army could arrive.A resident of the city reached by telephone, who gave his name only as Mohammad, said he could hear the sound of warplanes in the distance. The army advances over the last two days had sparked "indescribable joy" among people in the enclave after years of siege, he said.As the army and its allies have forced other militant pockets to surrender, including a Deash enclave on Syria's border with Lebanon a week ago, they have been able to transfer more troops to the desert campaign.Islamic State fighters and their families evacuated from that enclave as part of a surrender deal were escorted by the Syrian army and Hezbollah to east Syria, but have been stopped by a U.S.-led coalition from reaching Deir al-Zor.
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