Russia says Syria has managed to increase the size of the government-held areas across the Arab country by two and half times in just two months, calling the achievement a “great success.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made the news in an interview with state-owned television channel Rossiya 24 on Sunday, predicting the end of battle with the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.
He said the fall of the militant stronghold of Dayr al-Zawr, located in the east of the war-torn country on the Euphrates River, “will say a lot, if not everything, about the end of the battle with” Daesh.
The Syrian forces now control almost half of the city of Dayr al-Zawr and a nearby military airport. Daesh is in control of the other half of the provincial capital. The volatile city has been under the siege of terrorists since 2014, with food and ammunition only being delivered by air to the government-held parts.
Shoigu’s comments came amid concerted attempts by government troops, backed by airstrikes, to fully retake the city from terrorists.
Syrian media reported on Saturday that the government troops managed to flush Daesh terrorists from the key town of al-Sukhna, the terror group’s last stronghold in Syria’s sprawling central province of Homs, which is a neighbor to Dayr al-Zawr province to the west and southwest.
“The liberation of al-Sukhna from Daesh terrorists opens new opportunities for the Syrian government forces to launch an offensive and de-block the city of Dayr al-Zawr,” Shoigu added.
Back in June, Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) pounded Daesh headquarters in Dayr al-Zawr province with six medium-range ballistic missiles fired from western Iran.
Meanwhile, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, reported that at least 25 members of Daesh had been killed after the Syrian army launched a commando operation, backed by Russian warplanes and helicopters, in the northeast of Homs province.
During the past several months, Damascus, supported by Russian fighter jets, has been trying to recapture the vast desert region of Homs, which stretches from the country’s center to the Iraqi and Jordanian borders.
According to Syria’s official news agency (SANA), citing an unnamed military source, Syrian troops also managed to liberate three villages in the area during the operation, which occurred some 20 kilometers inside Daesh lines.
Moscow launched its campaign against Daesh and other militant groups in Syria upon a request from Damascus in September 2015. Its airstrikes have helped Syrian forces carry out effective counterterrorism operations against foreign-backed militants operating in the country since 2011.
United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimated last August that more than 400,000 people had been killed until then.