Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Russian Federation says goal of defeating IS in Syria 'accomplished'

Sergei Rudskoi Russian military Russian Federation says goal of defeating IS in Syria 'accomplished'
Melinda Barton | 08 December, 2017, 00:16

The jihadist group had suffered heavy losses in recent months and lost much of its territory in Syria.

It remains to be seen whether the Russian Aerospace Forces will continue military operations in the region or would completely draw to a close.

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

Now that terrorist group has been eliminated from Syria, Russian troops will concentrate their efforts on restoring peaceful life in the country and observing the parties' ceasefire, Rudskoi said.

"There is not a single village or district in Syria under the control of ISIL".

At the same time, special forces were on the ground directing planes and "destroying the most odious leaders of militant groups behind enemy lines", he said. Russia's stated goal has been to combat terrorism while pursuing a political settlement in the country through representative intra-Syrian negotiations and the preservation of Syria's unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

During a visit to Nizhny Novgorod, Putin said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told him that operations against IS on both the western and eastern banks of the Euphrates River had been successfully completed.

But the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict, said Thursday that IS still held about eight percent of the Deir Ezzor province.

The US defense department also said it would resume its airstrikes against the group.

Rudskoi said "separate sabotage bands of ISIL" could still be operating but would be fought by Syrian government troops, indicating that Russia's involvement would be scaled down.

Putin had said in November that Russian Federation would start focusing on political reform as part of a "new stage" in the conflict.

Russia's military mission in Syria's civil war in 2015 began at the official request of Damascus, and turned the tide of the conflict against rebel groups fighting to oust Moscow's ally, the government of Syria led by President Bashar al-Assad.