Syrian government forces drive Islamic State militants out of the town of al-Qaryatain, which Syrian media calls a strategic victory that secures important oil and gas routes and disrupts Islamic State supply routes within the country. Gavino Garay reports.
Just one week after Syrian government forces recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra, troops backed by Russian airpower seized control of the nearby town al-Qaryatain. The town, west of Palmyra, fell to Islamic State last August and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had been encircling it for several days. Syrian media calls the recapture of al-Qaryatain a strategic victory, saying it secures crucial oil and gas routes between the Damascus area and oil fields in eastern Syria. Assad has been trying to retake pockets of territory where the jihadist group has gained control, and to reduce Islamic State's footprint in heavily populated western Syria.