The Russian Defense Ministry declared on Wednesday that Syria has now been liberated completely from ISIS forces. General Valery Gerasimov, chief of Russia's General Staff, made the announcement on December 6, following what Moscow says is the defeat of ISIS in Deir ez-Zor.
“All ISIS armed groups on Syrian territory have been destroyed, and the territory itself has been liberated. An hour ago, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reported this information to the commander-in-chief, President Vladimir Putin,” Gerasimov said at his annual briefing with foreign military attaches.
Gerasimov claimed that Syrian General Suheil al-Hassan and the 5th Volunteer Assault Corps have defeated ISIS remnants in Deir ez-Zor and liberated settlements in Salihia, El-Khite, El-Katya, and Musalaha, and joined forced with government troops advancing from the south.
Other sources have yet to report that ISIS has been forced out of Syria entirely, claiming that the terrorist organization still controls several regions throughout the country, especially west of the Euphrates and to the south of Deir ez-Zor.
Russia's military intervention in Syria began in the fall of 2015, with the aim of aiding the Assad government against terrorist insurgents. Throughout the campaign, Russia has repeatedly been accused of attacking so-called “moderate rebels,” in addition to forces from ISIS and Al-Nusra Front.
Moscow has confirmed the combat deaths of 40 Russian soldiers in Syria, though an unknown number of Russian mercenaries have also fought and died in the war.
Russian citizens have also fought for terrorist organizations in Syria. According to Russian defense officials, more than 2,800 Russians have been killed fighting for various terrorist groups.