IS militants start withdrawing from key Syria border city

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Damascus, Jan 16 (IANS) Militants of the Islamic State (IS) group started withdrawing from a key city in Aleppo province on the Syrian-Turkish borders on Friday, following the progress of the Syrian army in the northern province of Aleppo.

The IS started pulling out of the city of al-Bab in the eastern countryside of Aleppo province, as the Syrian army approached that city and became a few kilometers away from it, Xinhua cited a pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV report as saying.

The withdrawn militants were sent to Syria’s northern city of al-Raqqa, the so-called de facto capital of the IS group, according to the report.

In mid November 2013, the IS group was in full control of the town.

The Syrian army backed by the Lebanese Hezbollah and Russian airstrikes unleashed recently a large-scale offensive against rebel-held areas in the eastern countryside of Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city and once an economic hub.

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The recent progress of the Syrian army is seen by observers as a push to consolidate positions on ground ahead of the January 25 peace talks in Geneva between representatives of the Syrian government and opposition parties.

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