An Islamic State (IS) car bombing killed at least 20 people and wounded 30 others near the city of Deir Al-Zor on Friday, November 17, according to Syrian state media. The blast reportedly targeted a ground where many internally displaced persons (IDP) are camping near the village of Al-Jafra, south of Deir Al-Zor. According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the death toll from the attack may rise in the coming days as many were seriously wounded.
Friday's IS attack comes some two weeks after an announcement by the Syrian government that Deir Al-Zor had been liberated following military operations against IS. The loss of Deir Al-Zor was significant for IS - which had maintained control of the city since 2014 - as it is a major oil production hub and the largest city in eastern Syria along the Euphrates River. IS militants carried out a similar attack on an IDP camp near Deir Al-Zor on November 4, killing at least 75 people and wounding at least 140 others.
IS has been rapidly losing its remaining territory in Syria as well as in Iraq over the past weeks and months. In mid-October, the former stronghold city of Raqqa was liberated from IS control. In neighboring Iraq, government forces have also achieved victories against IS, including the liberation of Mosul in July, Tal Afar in August, and Hawija in October. As IS's capabilities to successfully wage insurgent warfare in Iraq and Syria wane, it is likely that the group will continue to employ asymmetric terror tactics with greater frequency, using small cells that can operate within the group's progressively fragmenting leadership structure.
Syria is enmeshed in a complex civil war that started between the Assad government and opposition forces in March 2011. Today, the conflict in Syria involves many parties, including the Syrian government, the Russian government, the Iranian government, the Turkish government, a US-led coalition, and numerous armed groups on the ground (including IS) with competing goals.
Due to extremely poor security conditions, Western governments generally advise against all travel to Syria, with some banning travel to the country. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to any travel to Syria.