Russia: Syria now 'liberated' from 'Islamic State'

Russia: Syria now 'liberated' from 'Islamic State'

Russia's Defense Ministry reported on Wednesday that Syria has been completely liberated from Islamic State (IS), a terrorist organization banned in Russian Federation.

"The task of destroying the Daesh militia in Syria by the Russian Armed Forces has been accomplished", Rudskoi said, speaking at a press briefing.

"Two hours ago, the (Russian) defense minister reported to me that the operations on the eastern and western banks of the Euphrates have been completed with the total rout of the terrorists", Putin said.

There has been an "unprecedented" involvement by Russia's airforce in recent days, he said, with warplanes making 100 sorties and staging up to 250 strikes daily. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 21 civilians were killed, among them 9 children.

"We need to. move, undoubtedly, on to the next stage - the start of a political process", he added.

The Russian military says it has provided air support to Kurdish forces and local tribes in the oil-rich province of Deir el-Zour in eastern Syria and helped coordinate their offensive against the IS.

More news: Vehicle ploughs into New York City pedestrians

Though its self-styled caliphate has now collapsed, IS also has a presence in eastern parts of the central provinces of Homs and Hama, and in the Yarmuk Palestinian camp near Damascus.

With Syrian government forces now involved with combing and de-mining areas once held by the Islamic State group, Russia's new mission, according to Rudskoi, will revolve around preserving ceasefires and restoring peaceful life.

The combined forces of Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad have completely wiped out the Islamic State in Syria, the defence ministry has said.

In comments released by the Kremlin, Putin said that military operations against the Islamists had ground to a halt on both sides of the Euphrates while Russian activities would focus on backing a political process that would eventually involve presidential and parliamentary elections.

More than 340,000 people have been killed since the conflict broke out in March 2011 with protests against Assad's rule that sparked a brutal crackdown.

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