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Russian planes back Syria's battle for Palmyra

Russia's Defence Ministry says its planes in Syria are flying in support of the Syrian army's offensive to try recapture ancient city of Palmyra from the Islamic State group.

Lt Gen Sergei Rudskoi said Russian aircraft based in Syria are conducting 20-25 sorties a day in support of the Syrian military's offensive.

That is despite a Russian drawdown in Syria that President Vladimir Putin ordered this week in support of the Geneva talks.

Lt Gen Rudskoi told reporters in Moscow that the Syrian army has seized key hilltop points near Aleppo and has cut supply routes leading to the IS-held city.

He said the Syrian army is close to taking control of the city from the Islamic State group.

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