Syria '100% Free of Islamic State' - Russia's Defense Ministry

Syria '100% Free of Islamic State' - Russia's Defense Ministry

The Russian Armed forces have fulfilled their objective of destroying the military forces of the Daesh terrorist group in Syria, the head of the Russian General Staff Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi said on Thursday.

The extremist group still controls patches of territory in eastern Syria, where it imposes a media blackout.

Russia has declared its "complete victory" over the Islamic State groups in all of Syria, according to military's top brass and its top leader, Russian President Vladimir Putin. ISIL is an alternative abbreviation for the militant group.

"To win territorially against Daesh is one thing", de Mistura said, using an Arabic acronym for the group.

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

Syria's delegation has called the opposition's insistence on Assad's removal "provocative" and "irresponsible".

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"Its biggest presence is on the eastern side of the Euphrates, where it still holds around eight percent of Deir Ezzor Province", he said.

Syrian troops supported by Russian servicemen have completed the destruction of Islamic State (IS) terrorists in the war-torn country, a senior Russian military officer announced Thursday. The intervention has helped forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a close ally of Moscow, regain control over much of the country.

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.

Meanwhile, U.S. Pentagon spokesperson Army Colonel Rob Manning announced that roughly 2,000 U.S. troops are now operating in Syria, a number the agency had previously disputed.

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

Putin also said it was important to establish an inclusive and truly representative Congress of Syrian Peoples, a proposed peace conference that Russian Federation has offered to host, which would lead to the preparation of a new constitution and then presidential and parliamentary elections.

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