MOSCOW (Dispatches) -- Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Sunday the Syrian government has increased the size of the territory under its control by 2 1/2 times in just two months.
Shoigu made the comments in an interview with state-owned TV channel Rossiya 24 in which he predicted the end of the fight with Daesh.
Shoigu said the fall of the militant stronghold Deir el-Zour on the Euphrates "will say a lot, if not everything, about the end of the battle with” Daesh.
Russia is a close ally of the Syrian government and has been providing air support for Syrian forces since 2015. Under pressure from Syrian troops and their allies, Daesh has seen the territory it holds contract in recent months.
A commando operation backed by warplanes and helicopters has killed 25 members of Daesh in central Syria, a monitor said Sunday.
Syria’s army has waged a months-long offensive to recapture the vast desert region that stretches from the country’s center to the Iraqi and Jordanian borders.
On Saturday, 25 Daesh members were killed and others wounded in a commando operation by Syrian government forces with air support from Russian warplanes and helicopters in the northeast of Homs province, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
Six members of the government forces were also killed, it said. A military source said the operation occurred "20 kilometers inside Daesh terrorist lines.”
The raid allowed government forces to seize control of three villages in the area, official news agency SANA reported the source as saying.
The army has captured swathes of territory from the Takfiri terrorists in the province. According to the Observatory, Daesh now controls just dozens of villages in the east of Homs.
The Syrian "Badiya” is a large stretch of desert that extends over around 90,000 square kilometers of territory. Since 2015, much of the Badiya has been held by Daesh, but Syria’s army has been chipping away at it since May.
Government forces have ousted Daesh from Al-Sukhna, the last terrorist-held town in Homs province. Syrian troops are also fighting the militants in the south of neighboring Raqa province.
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