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 said. 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.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrived in Baghdad on Sunday for talks with Iraqi leaders on the U.S.-backed military campaign against Islamic State militants in Mosul, the Pentagon said. Iraqi forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition, have been battling Islamic State in Mosul for eight weeks. Carter said last week the battle for Mosul, while hard, could be complete before President-elect Donald Trump takes office next month.