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MOSCOW, June 9. /TASS/. The Syrian armed forces and people’s militia units have driven out militants of the Islamic State terror group (outlawed in Russia) from three Syria’s big cities, commander of the Russian force group in Syria, Colonel-General Sergey Surovikin, told reporters on Friday.
"The offensive along the western bank of the Euphrates is gaining momentum in the northeast of the Aleppo province. Units of the Syrian armed forces and people’s militia have driven out militants of ISIL (former name of Islamic State) from such large cities as Maskanah, Ramtan, Shatna and approached the city of Tabqa. They have gained control of the Jira airport, which has strategic importance," Surovikin said.
Aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Force carried out 1,268 sorties in Syria in the course of one month, destroying 3,200 terrorist facilities, Surovkin said.
He added that the Syrian government troops and militia units had been advancing further near Palmyra, located in the northwestern part of the Aleppo Governorate, as well as in the eastern Qalamoun Mountains area and in southern Syria, along the borders with Jordan and Iraq. "As a result, large units of the Islamic State terror group (IS, outlawed in Russia) have been crushed, the enemy suffered heavy troop and equipment losses. In one month, 3,922 square kilometers of territory and as many as 109 settlements were liberated from militants," Surovkin pointed out.
"Over this period, Russian aircraft carried out 1,268 sorties, destroying 3,200 terrorist facilities, including command centers, weapons depots, transit bases and militant training camps," the general said.
The Syrian army has taken three communities and 66 strategically important heights near Palmyra, according to Surovikin.
"The government’s forces approached the village of Arak, the capture of which will set the stage for further advance to As Sukhnah and Deir ez-Zor," Surovikin added.
As he put it, the government armed forces and militia troops conducted successful offensive actions against the ISIS (a terror organization outlawed in Russia) armed gangs in the north-west, east and south-east, forcing them out from strategic heights and expanding the safety zone around the strategic Damascus-Palmyra highway and the Tiyas Military Airbase.
"During the fighting, the terrorists were pushed out of the Shaer gas field, which damaged the terrorists’ economic potential, as they lost returns from illegal hydrocarbon production.