Damaged buildings are pictured during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in the old city of Raqqa, Syria, August 19, 2017. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra
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Syrian troops backed by Russian warplanes completely surrounded fighters of Daesh in a vast central desert region Thursday, an activist group said.By encircling them, the government forces dealt a "strategic" blow to the Daesh militants, it said.Analysts say the Syrian army needs to completely eliminate Daesh from the central part of the desert before it can attack Deir al-Zor, otherwise its troops would be exposed.The SDF is currently focused on capturing Raqqa city from Daesh.Syrian government forces, backed by the Russian air force and Iran-backed fighters, have also been advancing against Daesh south of the Euphrates River that forms Raqqa city's southern edge.
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