Portraits of (from L to R), Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Lebanon's Hezbollah chief Hasan Nasrallah, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Khaled al-Assaad, the slain chief archaeologist of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, are seen in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor on September 20, 2017 as Syrian government forces continue to press forward with Russian air cover in the offensive against Islamic State group jihadists across the province.
Two separate offensives are under way against the jihadists in the area -- one by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, the other by Russian-backed government forces. The Syrian army now controls around 70 percent of the city and is battling to oust IS from the remainder, according to the Britain-based Observatory.
 / AFP PHOTO / LOUAI BESHARA        (Photo credit should read LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)