The Syrian army and allied fighters captured on Tuesday three villages in the southeastern countryside of Raqqa, becoming close to the last Islamic State (IS) stronghold there, a military source told Xinhua on Tuesday.
With this progress, the army forces are about two km from Madan, the last IS-held town in the eastern countryside of Raqqa, the source said on condition of anonymity.
The Syrian troops have already captured the western and southern countryside of Raqqa.
Capturing Ma'dan will put the Syrian forces on the western administrative borders of the eastern province of Deir ez-Zor, the capital city of which is besieged by the IS.
The Syrian army is also advancing in the desert in central Syria, particularly after capturing the Sukhneh city in the eastern countryside of Homs, which is also adjacent to the administrative borders of Deir ez-Zor.
The wide-scale military offensive in the Syrian desert and the countryside of Raqqa is to break the IS siege and end its presence in Deir ez-Zor.
Meanwhile, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are also advancing inside Raqqa, and have taken control of 55 percent of the city following a two-month battle with IS.
These battles aim to eliminate the IS in the key cities in Syria, as part of a Russian-US understanding, which allows the Kurdish-led SDF to capture Raqqa city, and the Syrian army to retake Deir ez-Zor.