BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian special forces on Monday destroyed a bridge over the Euphrates River used by Islamic State to move supplies in eastern Syria, media run by Hezbollah said, a blow to the group in the swathe of Syrian territory it controls near Iraq.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the war, said an explosion had destroyed the bridge in Deir al-Zor city that is of vital importance to Islamic State as the only way for it to move into parts of the city it controls.
Islamic State seized control of most of Deir al-Zor province in July as its fighters took territory from rival insurgent groups using weaponry brought in from Iraq. Parts of Deir al-Zor city, including its airport, remain in government hands.
“The Syrian armed forces destroyed the Political Bridge in Deir al-Zor in a special operation carried out by special forces and army engineers, leading to the killing of the militants who were on it,” al-Manar, a media organisation run by the Lebanese group Hezbollah, reported on its website.
Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, has been an important ally of President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war and has deployed forces to fight alongside government loyalists.
The Syrian government has been pressing an air campaign against Islamic State in eastern and central Syria as the United States seeks to assemble a coalition against the group that has seized large areas of both Syria and Iraq.
Western governments have ruled out the idea of cooperating with President Bashar al-Assad in the fight. U.S. policy towards Syria is built on Assad leaving power.
U.S. President Barack Obama said last week he would not hesitate to strike Islamic State in Syria. The Syrian government has said any action taken without its permission will amount to an act of aggression.
Writing by Tom Perry