The Syrian army on Sunday advanced into the northern province of Raqqa as part of an offensive to reach the neighboring oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor, a monitoring group said.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said regime troops had reached the edges of Resafa, a town some 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of Raqqa city, bastion of ISIS.
The goal of the operation is to push further east and reach Deir Ezzor, the Observatory said.
The regime has lost control of many oil and gas fields since the start in 2011 of Syria’s conflict, especially in the provinces of Homs and Deir Ezzor.
Sunday’s advance came after government troops captured several villages in the past few days, said the Observatory.
Troops were also about 50 kilometers from a US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance of fighters, which launched a new offensive this month to retake Raqqa city.
The fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces entered the northern city earlier in June, after months of heavy clashes to encircle Raqqa.
Since June 6, they have seized a few neighborhoods, including one in the east and one in the west, and are battling to push into the Old City of Raqqa.
The Observatory says a large number of ISIS militants are holed up in the Old City.
ISIS seized Raqqa in 2014, transforming it into the de facto Syrian capital of its self-declared “caliphate.”