Syria's army and its allies have severed a main road linking Al-Bab, held by Islamic State, with the militants' strongholds further east. It comes after weeks of advances, and as power-brokers Russia, Iran and Turkey discuss how to shore up a brittle ceasefire. Lucy Fielder reports.
Caught in a pincer movement - Islamic State militants in Al-Bab. These Turkish-backed rebels have besieged them from the north. To the south, Syrian troops and their allies cutting off a main IS supply route on Monday (February 6). That isolates the jihadists from their eastern territories, Deir al-Zor and Raqqa, just as they're also losing ground in Iraq. President Bashar al-Assad's army is on a roll, backed by Russian airpower. Last week it retook the springs and villages of Wadi Barada, the capital Damascus's water source, after a fierce battle with rebels. Residents, as always, left to pick up the pieces. This ghost town once a bustling resort full of lively restaurants. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) RESTAURANT OWNER, TAHER KREIKY, SAYING: "It was heaven, heaven on earth. People depended on these cafes, resorts and restaurants for their income. There is no other way for them to make a living." A ceasefire between government forces and rebels holds, if shakily. How to shore that deal up is on the table at talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Monday. Syria's army and rebels each accuse the other of breaches. Russia, Turkey and Iran - power-brokers in Syria's war - meeting with the United Nations to discuss securing humanitarian access and preventing provocations. Their influence on the rise as Washington's wanes.