DAMASCUS, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army and allied fighters have captured 80 percent of the eastern city of al-Bukamal, the last Islamic State (IS) stronghold in Syria, the pro-government al-Watan newspaper said Sunday.
The Syrian forces are close to ending IS and eliminate their last stronghold in the city of al-Bukamal in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zour province in eastern Syria.
The paper said the Syrian army made a major progress inside the city, capturing most of its neighborhoods following intense battles with IS.
The forces are now purging the city from the remnants of IS militants, the newspaper said, adding that the army besieged the remaining IS militants in areas they are still controlling in the city.
On Nov. 9, the Syrian forces declared capturing al-Bukamal from IS, but on Nov. 11, the IS launched a counter-offensive clawing back the city, their last stronghold in Syria near the Iraqi border.
A day earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that six Tu-22M3 long-range bombers struck the IS positions in al-Bukamal, destroying weaponry and killing militants of the terror-designated group.
Special monitoring equipment confirmed that all of the designated targets were hit, the ministry said, adding that the Tu-22M3 bombers were escorted by Sukhoi Su-30SM fighters from the Russian-run Hmeimim Air Base in the Syrian coastal city of Latakia to hit their target.
Al-Bukamal is very important for IS due to its proximity to IS-held areas on the Iraqi side of the border, which have recently been stormed by the Iraqi army and allied troops.
After losing it, the IS militants will have lost all of their strongholds in Syria, maintaining just a few pockets in northeastern and southern Syria.
Last month, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces captured the northern city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of IS.
This month, the Syrian army captured the capital city of Deir al-Zour.