Russia Hails Progress in Syria Conflict, Ups Bombing Runs

Russia Hails Progress in Syria Conflict, Ups Bombing Runs

Russia hailed what it said was "a dramatic shift" in the Syria conflict, saying that the Syrian army, with Moscow's help, was well on its way to pushing militants out of the central part of the country.

Senior Russian Defense Ministry official, Colonel-General Sergei Rudskoi said on Monday (August 21) Russia had intensified its air campaign, flying nearly one thousands sorties and killing an estimated 800 militants in the last month alone in Syria.

With Islamic State (ISIS) militants concentrated in Deir al-Zor, he said Russia had stepped up its reconnaissance and bombing runs in the area to between 60 and 70 per day and that the Syrian army was closing in on the militant group from three sides.

The Russian official also said the province of Aleppo had been entirely "liberated" with control of 50 population centers and more than 2,700 square kilometers (1042.48 square miles) of territory taken back.

Rudskoi said the Syrian army was advancing at a pace of 30-40 kilometers (43.5 miles) or more every 24 hours and that -- with Russia's help -- it was using new battlefield tactics such as surprise landings by helicopter.