Russian Army General Valery Gerasimov gives a briefing on Wednesday. Photo: Russia Ministry of Defence
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Russia’s defence minister has informed President Vladimir Putin of the defeat of ISIS in Syria and the “complete” liberation of that country.
“All ISIS formations in Syria have been defeated. Syria has been liberated from terrorists,” General of the Army Valery Gerasimov stated Wednesday evening, adding that Minister Sergei Shoigu informed Putin of this “about an hour ago.”
Russia has been a key ally of Syria, propping up Damascus during the civil war and backing regime forces.
Announcing the liberation of four villages in Deir ez-Zor province, “there are no territories controlled by ISIS in Syria today,” Gerasimov said.
The military operations were overseen by Russian military advisers “operating in every grouping of the government troops,” according to a statement from Russia’s Ministry of Defence.
“Units of Kurdish militia and tribes from the East Euphrates operating under the leadership of the joint staff and Russian military advisers have made a large contribution to the liberation of territories located to the east from the Euphrates,” Gerasimov added.
On Sunday, in a joint press conference with Russian military officials, the Kurdish armed force YPG announced the defeat of ISIS
in the rural areas of Deir ez-Zor province, east of the Euphrates River.
The YPG, fighting under the SDF flag, had led the offensive with the backing of the US-led global coalition.
Russia has been backing the Syrian regime, which ran a parallel military operation against ISIS across the river.
The two sides came briefly into conflict with Russia warning the United States in September that they would target the SDF if provoked.
Coalition spokesperson Col. Ryan Dillon categorically denied Russia’s assertions that they supported Kurdish forces in Deir ez-Zor province, saying in a question and answer on Twitter, “such claims are false.”
The closer ties between the Kurdish forces and Russia come as the United States has said it is adjusting its support for the YPG as the focus shifts to stabilization.
There are fewer than 3,000 ISIS militants remaining in Iraq and Syria, according to coalition figures. The group has been defeated in the urban areas they once controlled in both countries, but some pockets remain in the deserts along the Iraq-Syria border.