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BEIRUT, March 16. /TASS/. The Syrian army is fighting Islamic State units four kilometers away from antique Palmyra, Al Watan newspaper reports, saying government troops have captured strategic points of the al-Hayal mountain overlooking Palmyra.
Palmyra was seized by IS on May 21, 2015, with several defense lines created around the city. Over the past few months, Syrian troops have repeatedly staged operations on the front west and south of the city. The storm was postponed for fears of major losses among the troops.
Supported by Russian and Syrian warplanes, last week the government troops and militia units managed to closely approach the city once again. Powerful strikes are delivered on IS positions. Islamic State terrorists are suffering losses, and according to eyewitnesses they have started pulling off their units to Raqqa, where their main stronghold is situated.
Liberation of Palmira will enable the Syrian troops to regain control over the eastern part of Homs province and the highway to Deir ez-Zor, and then approach the border with Iraq. Experts say that in this case IS will lose about 20% of the territory it controls in Syria.