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Syrian army nears Islamic State-held water station supplying Aleppo

Syrian army soldiers man a checkpoint along a road in Aleppo, Syria February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Syrian army has advanced to the outskirts of an Islamic State-held village in northern Syria where a pumping facility provides water for Aleppo, a monitor said on Tuesday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitoring group, said the army and allied forces made gains east of Aleppo city, as Syrian and Russian planes pounded the rural areas.

The army and its allies moved closer to the al-Khafsa area on the western bank of the Euphrates River, where the water treatment and pumping plants are located, and to the al-Jarrah military airport, the Observatory said

A Syrian military source said the army had advanced to areas “very close” to both.

Aleppo’s main water supply has been cut off for nearly two months, and the city’s residents now rely mainly on ground wells or water purchased from private vendors.

A military media unit run by Hezbollah, which is fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s government forces, said the army was within 3 km (2 miles) of the water facility.

Islamic State is losing ground in northern Syria to three separate campaigns - by the Russian-backed Syrian army, by U.S-backed Syrian militias, and by Turkey and allied Syrian rebel groups.

Reporting by Ellen Francis and Tom Perry; Editing by Dominic Evans