(Adds details and background)
AMMAN Dec 11 Russian air strikes forced Islamic
State fighters to retreat to the outskirts of Palmyra on Sunday,
a day after they had stormed the ancient city in eastern Syria,
a war monitor said.
The militants were now fighting in orchards on the fringe of
Palmyra, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
Russia's Defence Ministry said its jets had launched 64
strikes and killed more than 300 militants during the operation,
backing up the Syrian army.
Islamic State fighters had gained control of some oil and
gas fields around the city during their advance which started on
Thursday, the monitor said. They had also been pushing towards
the nearby T4 air base - used by Russian forces supporting the
It was not immediately clear who now controlled the fields,
including al Mahr and Jazal.
The city had been recaptured from the militants last March,
in what was hailed as a major victory for the government and the
biggest reversal for Islamic State in Syria since Russia's
intervention, which turned the tide of the conflict in Assad's
(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Additional reporting by Jack
Stubbs in Moscow; Editing by Andrew Heavens)