Russian president Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that the Islamic State organisation had been finally defeated in Syria.
Chief of Staff General Valery Gerasimov said that the group had been expelled from its final strongholds in the Euphrates Valley.
“Therefore, as of today, there’s no territory controlled by ISIS in Syria,” he said.
Putin said that before moving to a political settlement in Syria, it would be necessary to strengthen the de-escalation areas and stop the bloodshed in the country.
His remarks came despite Russia and its Syrian regime ally repeatedly breached their own policy in areas such as Eastern Ghouta, a district outside of Damascus that has seen weeks of heavy bombardment on civilian targets, despite it being marked as a de-escalation area.
Putin also urged the Syrian government, the states in the region and the United Nations to move “to the next stage, the political process”.
The Russian military has provided air support to Kurdish fighters and local tribes in the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor, in the east of Syria, and helped coordinate their attacks against Islamic State.
Russian forces have been supporting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s troops since 2015, ostensibly to destroy Islamic State but also largely focusing on crushing all groups opposed to the regime.
In November, they achieved a major victory after pushing Islamic State out of Deir Ezzor, the last major IS stronghold in the Middle East.
That started a campaign to retake other towns dotted along the Euphrates River, which leads to Syria’s border with Iraq.