Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ACROSS AFRICA

African nations need to prepare for potential return of thousands of jihadists

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

DR Congo former child soldiers awarded $10 mn in damages in landmark ruling

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Website roots out "Rotten Apples"

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Putin's press conference, Alabama election, One Planet Summit, Brexit Phase II, Disney & Fox

Read more

#TECH 24

WorldRemit: Helping migrant workers send money back home

Read more

FOCUS

The challenges awaiting the new leader of South Africa's ANC

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Bangladeshi PM calls violence in Myanmar 'unacceptable'

Read more

DOWN TO EARTH

Was 2017 the worst year for the environment?

Read more

ENCORE!

Rhiannon Giddens strikes out on her 'Freedom Highway'

Read more

Syria troops, allies retake most of last IS-held town: monitor

© AFP/File | A rocket is fired by Syrian forces near the border town of Albu Kamal on November 10, 2017

BEIRUT (AFP) - 

Syrian troops and allied fighters advanced Saturday to capture most of Albu Kamal, a monitor said, in a tug-of-war over the Islamic State group's last urban stronghold in the country.

The town in Syria's oil-rich Deir Ezzor province has changed hands several times, with government troops announcing its capture but losing it to a blistering IS counter-attack a week ago.

Syria's army and Lebanese, Iranian and Iraqi loyalists re-entered Albu Kamal two days ago and by Saturday had taken most of it from IS, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"Syrian regime forces, (Lebanese) Hezbollah, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and Iraqi militias seized control on Saturday of more than 80 percent of Albu Kamal, after a huge attack that began Friday night," said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

"IS was pushed back to the northern and northeastern sectors of the city. Clashes are ongoing," Abdel Rahman told AFP.

The Britain-based monitor said the fresh push came with heavy bombing raids by regime ally Russia, and that troops were advancing more "carefully" than in their previous assault to ensure their gains would not be rolled back.

A string of territorial defeats across northern and eastern Syria left Albu Kamal, near the border with Iraq, as the last significant town held by IS in the country.

Losing it to regime forces would cap the group's reversion to a guerrilla organisation with no urban base.

On Saturday, Syrian state television aired live footage from Albu Kamal, showing plumes of smoke rising over the city's skyline as explosions echoed in the background.

It said the army was preparing to "storm the remaining areas" held by IS in Albu Kamal's east.

"What has most impeded the Syrian army's advance is the large amounts of mines left by Daesh (IS) and its attempt at using families as human shields," state television reported.

© 2017 AFP