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MOSCOW, September 29. /TASS/. Russian sappers have started a large-scale de-mining effort in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday.
In total, the operation involves more than 170 servicemen and 40 pieces of special and engineering equipment.
"On a priority basis, specialists of the Russian Armed Forces Anti-Mine Center remove mines from roads leading to socially important facilities of the city, such as hospitals, water and electricity supply facilities," the ministry said in a statement.
"At present, groups of military engineers and sappers are clearing roads, roadsides and adjacent buildings near the city and on its outskirts in order to ensure the safety of humanitarian convoys heading to Deir ez-Zor," the statement reads.
According to early estimates, an area of up to 1,500 hectares is yet to be cleared in Deir ez-Zor and nearby settlements.
The siege of Deir ez-Zor by groups of Islamic State militants began in 2014 and was broken on September 5. The successful operation allowed Syrian government troops to start liberating the Euphrates River valley and areas on the border with Iraq. The release of the eastern region, with rich oil and gas reserves, will be vital for the Syrian economy and the resumption of trade with Iraq.