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Russia says it helped repulse IS assault on Syria's Palmyra

  • This image posted online on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, by supporters of the Islamic State militant group on an anonymous photo sharing website, purports to show a convoy of vehicles of IS driving in a desert area of east of Palmyra city, in Homs, Syria. Syrian opposition activists say the Islamic State group has regained control of the ancient town of Palmyra despite a wave of Russian airstrikes in a major advance after a year of setbacks for the group in Syria and Iraq. The Arabic caption reads, "Islamic Caliphate soldiers head to the bases of the Nussayari (derogative for Alawite Syrian) in the deserted base near T-4 military air base." (Militant Photo via AP)

    This image posted online on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, by supporters of the Islamic State militant group on an anonymous photo sharing website, purports to show a convoy of vehicles of IS driving in a desert area of east of Palmyra city, in Homs, Syria. Syrian opposition activists say the Islamic State group has regained control of the ancient town of Palmyra despite a wave of Russian airstrikes in a major advance after a year of setbacks for the group in Syria and Iraq. The Arabic caption reads, "Islamic Caliphate soldiers head to the bases of the Nussayari (derogative for Alawite Syrian) in the deserted base near T-4 military air base." (Militant Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • This image posted online on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, by supporters of the Islamic State militant group on an anonymous photo sharing website, purports to show a gun-mounted vehicle operated by the group firing at Syrian troops north of Palmyra city, in Homs, Syria. Syrian opposition activists say the Islamic State group has regained control of the ancient town of Palmyra despite a wave of Russian airstrikes in a major advance after a year of setbacks for the group in Syria and Iraq. The Arabic caption reads: "Targeting checkpoints of the Nussayari (derogative for Alawite Syrian) army in Jazal with heavy weapons." (Militant Photo via AP)

    This image posted online on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, by supporters of the Islamic State militant group on an anonymous photo sharing website, purports to show a gun-mounted vehicle operated by the group firing at Syrian troops north of Palmyra city, in Homs, Syria. Syrian opposition activists say the Islamic State group has regained control of the ancient town of Palmyra despite a wave of Russian airstrikes in a major advance after a year of setbacks for the group in Syria and Iraq. The Arabic caption reads: "Targeting checkpoints of the Nussayari (derogative for Alawite Syrian) army in Jazal with heavy weapons." (Militant Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • This image posted online on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, by supporters of the Islamic State militant group on an anonymous photo sharing website, purports to show a gunman firing an anti-tank missile at Syrian troops north of Palmyra city, in Homs Provence, Syria. Syrian opposition activists say the Islamic State group has regained control of the ancient town of Palmyra despite a wave of Russian airstrikes in a major advance after a year of setbacks for the group in Syria and Iraq. The Arabic caption reads, "The moment of targeting checkpoints of the Nussayari, (derogative for Alawite Syrian) army with a guided missile in Jazal area." (Militant Photo via AP)

    This image posted online on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, by supporters of the Islamic State militant group on an anonymous photo sharing website, purports to show a gunman firing an anti-tank missile at Syrian troops north of Palmyra city, in Homs Provence, Syria. Syrian opposition activists say the Islamic State group has regained control of the ancient town of Palmyra despite a wave of Russian airstrikes in a major advance after a year of setbacks for the group in Syria and Iraq. The Arabic caption reads, "The moment of targeting checkpoints of the Nussayari, (derogative for Alawite Syrian) army with a guided missile in Jazal area." (Militant Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Russia says its air force has helped Syrian troops repulse an Islamic State attack on the historic town of Palmyra.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Sunday that it carried out 64 airstrikes overnight that killed 300 IS militants and destroyed the extremists' vehicles and artillery.

Palmyra is home to towering 2,000-year-old ruins and was a major tourist attraction before the civil war broke out in 2011. IS seized the town last year and held it for 10 months before being driven out by Russian-backed Syrian forces in March.

The militants have advanced on Palmyra in recent days, with reports of heavy fighting within the town itself. Syria's army has been largely focused on the northern city of Aleppo, where it is waging a major offensive against Syrian rebels.