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

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The senior officer emphasized that to date, not a single settlement or district remains under the terrorist group's control in the country.

Russian Federation said Thursday that it had completed its mission to liberate Syria from Islamic State jihadists, though the United Nations cautioned that a territorial victory was incomplete without a political solution.

"All armed IS groups on Syrian territory have been destroyed, and the territory itself has been liberated", General Valery Gerasimov was cited as saying by the Defense Ministry's press service during his annual meeting with foreign military representatives.

"The Russian armed forces' goal to defeat armed groups of the ISIL terrorist organization in Syria has been accomplished", he said, albeit adding that "separate sabotage bands of ISIL" may still be fighting. ISIL is an alternative abbreviation for the militant group.

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The general also said that Russian forces had in recent days been fighting alongside Kurdish forces near the Syria-Iraq border.

The Syrian troops are now demining the settlements previously occupied by IS terrorists.

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. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 21 civilians were killed, among them 9 children.

Smoke billows from the eastern Syrian city of Deir al-Zour during an operation by Syrian government forces against Islamic State (IS) group jihadists on November 2, 2017.

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

Russian Federation launched an air campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces in 2015. The intervention has helped forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a close ally of Moscow, regain control over much of the country.

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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