Syrian army secures Islamic State-held town in Homs province: state media

Syrian army secures Islamic State-held town in Homs province: state media
A man rides a motorcycle down a street past a damaged building in the central Syrian rebel-held town of Talbiseh, north of Homs, on August 3, 2017/ AFP PHOTO / MAHMOUD TAHA

(Reuters) Syrian government forces seized full control of the last major town in Homs province held by Islamic State, Syrian state media reported on Saturday, as the army and its allies press a multi-pronged advance into eastern areas held by the jihadist group.

Syrian state media cited a military source saying Islamic State militants had been killed and their weapons destroyed at the town of al-Sukhna, some 50 km (30 miles) northeast of the ancient city of Palmyra.

The town is also located some 50 km (30 miles) from the provincial boundary of Deir al-Zor province, Islamic State’s last major foothold in Syria and a major target for the Syrian government.

The jihadists have lost swathes of Syrian territory to separate campaigns being waged by government forces backed by Russia and Iran, and by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic (SDF) Forces, which is dominated by the Kurdish YPG militia. The SDF is currently focused on capturing Raqqa city from Islamic State.

Syrian government forces advancing from the west have recently crossed into Deir al-Zor province from southern areas of Raqqa province.

Islamic State controls nearly all of Deir al-Zor province, which is bordered to the east by Iraq. The Syrian government still controls a pocket of territory in Deir al-Zor city, and a nearby military base.

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