US troops and Russia-backed Syrian forces set to come into contact as they close in separately on Isis
The duelling battles for Deir Ezzor highlight the importance of the oil-rich eastern province, which has become the latest focus of the international war against tIsis, raising concerns of an eventual clash between the two sides.
The race to reach the Iraqi border will shape future regional dynamics, determining whether the United States or Russia and Iran will have more influence in the strategic area once the extremist group is defeated.
IS 'minister of war' killed in Syria air attack, Russia says
Russia said on Friday that its forces killed several top commanders of the Islamic State (IS) group in an air strike in Syria, including the so-called "emir" of Deir Ezzor and the "minister of war" who was trained by the US before joining IS.
Gulmurod Khalimov, a native of Tajikistan who is known as the IS group's minister of war, suffered a "fatal injury," the ministry added.
The United States last August offered $3m for the capture of Khalimov, who had been trained by the US in counter-terrorism before joining IS.
The State Department described Khalimov as "a key leader" and recruiter for IS.
Daesh 'Minister of War' killed in Russian airstrike: Moscow
Russia claimed Friday to have killed several top commanders of Daesh (ISIS) in an airstrike in Syria, including the so-called Emir of Deir al-Zor and the "Minister of War."
Backed by Russia, Syrian troops on Tuesday broke through a years-long siege imposed by Daesh militants on tens of thousands of civilians in Deir al-Zor.
The power plays behind Russia’s deconfliction in Afrin
Russia's decision to send in forces to deconflict recent clashes between Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) forces, operating from the northwestern Syrian Kurdish Afrin Canton, and Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) militiamen in the vicinity, is another indication that the Syrian Kurds can retain their hold over territory they seized in prior battles against their enemies, while Russia is using the Kurds as leverage against Turkey.
Russia deployed military police to the area to enforce this new buffer zone between the two sides. This effectively solidifies the YPG's hold over Tell Rifaat, at least for now. The city is situated in the so-called al-Shahba region, the areas the YPG have captured outside of their territories between Kobani and Afrin Canton.
To Russia “Afrin represents possibly the only effective leverage Russia has against Turkey in Syria. By using the Kurdish presence in Afrin Moscow may try to incentivize Turkey to be more cooperative during the settlement process in Syria.”
Lavrov urges direct talks, GCC unity amid Gulf crisis
"We need to bring stability in the Middle East and North Africa," Lavrov said. "We are keen to sort out this problem, and we need to support mediation efforts. We need to maintain the unity of the GCC."
He added that Russia supported mediation efforts by Kuwait and attempts by the United States to resolve the crisis.
Russia backs Kuwaiti efforts to resolve Arab crisis: FM
Declaring that Moscow sought “new horizons for cooperation with Riyadh”, the Russian FM stated: “There are no contradictions with Saudi Arabia regarding how to resolve disputes in the region.”
Addressing the ongoing conflict in Syria, Lavrov praised Riyadh’s stated support for the Syrian “political process” and the establishment of de-escalation zones across the war-torn country.
“Next week will likely see an agreement to establish a new zone in the countryside of [Syria’s] Idlib province,” he said, also stressing Moscow’s support for Saudi efforts to unify Syrian opposition factions.
Russian envoy visits Saudi Arabia for Syria, Gulf talks
As the world's largest oil producers, Saudi Arabia and Russia have worked closely to curb oil production in an effort to shore up prices, however the two are also in fierce competition for a larger share in China's growing market.
King Salman greeted Sergey Lavrov at his summer palace in the Red Sea city of Jiddah before the Russian envoy's meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The king's 32-year-old son and heir to the throne, who oversees Saudi energy and defense policy, visited Russia in May to boost ties between the world's two top oil producers.