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IS terrorists control less than 5% of Syria’s territory — Russian defense minister

The IS terrorists’ financial gains from oil sales have been almost brought to an end, Sergey Shoigu stressed

CLARK/Philippines/, October 24. /TASS/. The Islamic State (terror group, outlawed in Russia) controls no more than 5% of Syria’s territory, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Tuesday.

"Today, ISIL (former name of IS terror group) controls less than 5%, before the operation of the Russian Aerospace Forces, ISIL controlled more than 70% of Syria’s territory," Shoigu told the fourth meeting of defense ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states and dialogue partners.

"Some 998 towns and settlements have been liberated, and the liberated territory reaches 503,223 square kilometers. Many militants have been killed. The process of restoring peaceful life in the country has started," Shoigu said.

About 2,500 settlements across Syria have signed reconciliation deals thanks to the focused efforts of the Russian center for reconciliation of warring parties. Since 2015, 1.126 mln people have returned home, including 660,000 this year.

The IS terrorists’ financial gains from oil sales have been almost brought to an end, he stressed. Until 2015, the IS group earned around $3bln per year from selling oil on Syria’s territory. Sometimes its oil revenues even reached up to $10mln per day.

During the two-year-long campaign of Russia’s Aerospace Forces in Syria, "major terrorist formations were destroyed in crucial areas, key settlements were liberated and the siege of major communication lines was broken," Shoigu said.

About 948 terrorists’ training camps, 666 factories and workshops for manufacturing ammunition and 1,500 pieces of military equipment have been eliminated.

More than 200 oil and gas facilities were also wiped out, as well as 184 oil refineries, 126 fuel pumping stations and around 4,000 petrol tank vehicles, according to the defense minister.

Russian deminers clearing 1,500 explosive devices in Syria every day

Russian deminers have been clearing about 1,500 explosive devices in Syria every day, according to Shoigu.

"We have been paying special attention to solving humanitarian problems in Syria," he said."We have carried out large-scale demining operations. As many as 96,105 explosive devices have already been cleared with about 1,500 devices being cleared every day," Shoigu added. "We are also training Syrian domineers. A total of 621 Syrian deminers have already joined mine clearing activities," the Russian defense minister said.

"I would like to call on the ASEAN member states and dialogue partners to join the humanitarian and restorative mission in Syria. On our behalf, we are ready to provide any necessary assistance," Shoigu said.

He pointed out that following the agreements reached at the Astana talks, four de-escalation zones had been established on Syria’s territory.

"Today, Syria needs significant humanitarian aid, including food, basic necessities and medicine, as well as assistance in restoring vital infrastructure facilities and demining," the Russian defense minister stressed.