Islamic State nearly surrounded in Syria

Russian-backed Syrian government forces have all but encircled Islamic State militants in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour.


The state-run news agency SANA said pro-government forces are battling the militants in the village of al-Husseiniyeh on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, across from the remaining militant-held pockets in the city.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said retaking al-Husseiniyeh would leave the militants fully surrounded.

Syrian forces have advanced since early September on Deir el-Zour, breaking an IS siege on government-held parts of the city.

US-backed Syrian forces are battling the militants on the eastern side of the river in a separate offensive.

The race for control of territory and resources in the oil-rich province that borders Iraq has caused friction between the two sides.

The US-backed fighters say government forces and Russian warplanes have attacked them. Russia warned it would retaliate after it said Syrian government troops came under fire from the US-backed forces.

Russia and the United States say they are working out a mechanism to avoid friction in the common fight against Islamic State militants.

Elsewhere in Syria, a Russian airstrike killed five senior members of an al-Qaeda-linked group operating in the north-west, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The Russian military said the airstrike was based on intelligence about an upcoming high-level meeting of the leaders of al-Qaeda-linked Levant Liberation Committee south of the city of Idlib.

It said the five included the leader of the group’s unit in south Idlib province, a financial chief, and an adviser to one of the group’s ideologues, Saudi cleric Abdullah al-Muhaysini.