Syrian forces backed by Russian airstrikes have advanced to the outskirts of the ancient city of Palmyra in their campaign to retake the area from Islamic State militants.
Local officials and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights say government forces have closed in on the southern and western sides of Palmyra.
Islamic State captured the area in May 2015 and sparked alarm as its fighters demolished Roman-era ruins at the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
An image distributed by Islamic State militants on social media on August 25, 2015 purports to show the destruction of a Roman-era temple in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra. Syria's antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim told Reuters the images did appea
After the October destruction of the Arch of Triumph, UNESCO chief Irina Bokova said Islamic State is "terrified by history and culture," but that the militants can never erase history.