Four top Islamic State militants killed in Russia backed airstrikes

Members of the Syrian government forces ride on a tank in the village of Kobajjep on the southwestern outskirts of Deir Ezzor province

Russian forces have killed four Islamic State group leaders in an air strike outside the eastern Syria city of Deir el-Zour, officials said.

A former special forces chief in his native Tajikistan, Khalimov participated in several counterterrorism training courses organized by the US State Department in the US and Tajikistan up to 2014 before pledging his allegiance to IS the year later.

"Deir el-Zour is for whoever captures the middle of the city", he said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also confirmed that government forces had breached the airport siege.

A recent deal brokered between the Syrian government, Hezbollah and Islamic State meant to allow Islamic State fighters and their families to take a convoy of buses to the Iraqi border, however, has raised additional concern about the Syrian government's determination to defeat the group.

The advances put yet more pressure on Daesh's shrinking territories, which once stretched across northern and eastern Syria, and northwestern Iraq. Peace talks have repeatedly failed to bring an end to the war.

On Sunday, the Observatory said fighters from the SDF's Deir Ezzor Military Council (DEMC) had made a sweeping advance, capturing territory just kilometres (miles) from the provincial capital Deir Ezzor.

The government has yet to comment on the U.S. -led operation in Deir al-Zour, but it has repeatedly slammed the U.S. coalition as "illegitimate".

The coalition said the line runs from Raqqa Province southeast along the Euphrates River towards Deir al-Zour.

IS holdouts were still entrenched in southern parts of the city, the monitor said.

Ingy Sedky, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Damascus, said hygiene kits, food parcels and medicine were delivered for 80,000 people. "The area is under fierce air raids", Hamidi told VOA.

The SDF has seized around 65 percent of Raqa city, which lies directly west of Deir Ezzor province.

"We are not coordinating with the regime or with Russia". Regaining the city would allow the regime to continue to reclaim more territory in the east, continuing a pattern of gains that has continued with few exceptions since Russia intervened on Assad's side in the civil war in 2015.



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