Terror outfit Islamic State recaptured Albu Kamal in eastern Syria on Saturday, just two days after the Syrian regime forces and allied militia from Lebanon, Iraq and Iran took the town.
IS launched a fierce fightback to recapture Albu Kamal, the last of its urban bastion.
“IS fully recaptured Albu Kamal, and regime forces and allied militia are now between one to two kilometres from the city limits,” Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Observatory, said on Saturday.
Across the border, Iraqi forces seized several villages from the jihadists in an offensive to capture the last IS-held section of their country.
The operation’s commander, General Abdelamir Yarallah, said his forces captured Rumana and 10 other villages as they worked their way towards the Euphrates Valley town of Rawa, the last Iraqi town still held by IS.
The jihadist group has in the space of a few weeks seen its “caliphate” shrink to a small rump and lost major cities such as Mosul in Iraq, and Raqa and Deir Ezzor in Syria.
Albu Kamal is the last significant Syrian town it controls. Losing it would cap the group’s reversion to an underground guerrilla organisation with no urban base.
The jihadist rebound came as the United States and Russia issued a surprise joint presidential statement saying there was “no military solution” to Syria’s six-year war.
The two countries have long backed opposite sides in Syria, but Russia also confirmed US’ version that US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin made progress on Syria during a brief meeting on the sidelines of a summit in Vietnam.
Trump and Putin also “confirmed their determination to defeat ISIS.”
The jihadist group overran swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq in 2014, but its self-styled “caliphate” has since been whittled down to a pocket of land along the border between the two countries.
IS rose to prominence in the chaos of Syria’s conflict, which broke out in 2011 with protests against President Bashar al-Assad.
It has since evolved into a complex war that has killed more than 330,000 people, forced millions more to flee, and left much of the country in ruins.
Multiple rounds of peace talks hosted by the United Nations have failed to resolve Syria’s entrenched conflict.
(With inputs from agencies)