BEIRUT (AP) -- Syria's state news agency says government forces have captured four villages east of the Euphrates River in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour.
SANA says the villages were held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, adding that they are close to the provincial capital also called Deir el-Zour.
Crossings into the east bank of the Euphrates River in eastern Syria by government forces have been rare.
Much of Deir el-Zour province was held by the Islamic State group but over the past year Syrian government forces captured most areas west of the Euphrates while SDF fighters took areas east of the river.
On Feb. 7, pro-Syrian government fighters attacked SDF positions east of the river and faced a ferocious U.S. counterattack that left dozens, including Russians, dead.