On September 8, a Russian Defense Ministry statement said the following:
“After confirming the information received and conducting additional reconnaissance, two Su-34 and Su-35 aircraft of Russia’s Aerospace Forces were scrambled from the Hmeymim air base, which made a pinpoint strike with bunker busting bombs. The air strike destroyed an underground terrorist command post, a communications center and about 40 militants of Daesh” – including war minister Gulmurod Khalimov, dying “from a lethal injury,” adding:
“Effective actions of the Russian Aerospace Forces made it possible to speed up the unblocking of the city of Deir Ezzor and allow the Syrian troops to start its immediate liberation.”
“According to confirmed information, four influential field commanders were among the destroyed militants, including ‘the Sharif (emir) of Deir Ezzor,’ Abu Muhammad al-Shimali who was responsible for finance as well as redeployment of new recruits to Daesh training camps.”
Shimali was a Saudi national, affiliated with al-Qaeda in Iraq before joining ISIS, a key terrorist leader eliminated.
Pre-dawn on Friday, Syrian and allied forces liberated ash-Shula from ISIS control, a strategic town west of Deir Ezzor, the last major one along the route to the city. Liberating it entirely could come in days.
Achieving it will be a major step toward defeating the scourge of US-supported ISIS in Syria. Reports indicate its fighters are scrambling to leave the city, infighting among its members occurring as Syrian forces advance closer to their positions, aerial operations greatly aiding them.
Sergey Lavrov called breaking ISIS’ siege of Deir Ezzor “an important milestone in the war on terror in Syria,” adding:
“Now that the siege is broken, conditions have been created for achieving another important task, which is the liberation of Deir Ezzor from terrorists.”
“The Syrian troops supported by our aerospace force continue its activities aimed at achieving this goal.”
ISIS in Syria faces defeat, Russian Chief of General Staff Gen. Sergey Rudskoy said in response to military successes against its fighters in Deir Ezzor.