Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the Islamic State (IS) extremist group has suffered a "complete defeat” along the Euphrates River in eastern Syria.
During a visit to Nizhny Novgorod, Putin said on December 6 that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told him that military “operations on the eastern and western banks of the Euphrates are over with a complete defeat of the terrorists.”
However, he added that some isolated pockets of resistance could remain in the area.
"We need to...move, undoubtedly, on to the next stage: the start of a political process," the Russian president also said.
More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria and millions have been driven from their homes since Syria’s civil war began in March 2011 with a crackdown on antigovernment protests.
Russia supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and provides air support for government forces. Iran also backs Assad, while the United States and Turkey support differing rebel groups.
The IS group also entered the war and is opposed by all other sides. It has been driven out of most of its strongholds in the country.
The eastern province of Deir al-Zor, which is divided by the Euphrates River, is one of the last remaining areas where its fighters are holding out.
Earlier on December 6, a monitoring group said that Russian warplanes overnight hit a village controlled by IS extremists in Deir al-Zor Province, killing at least 21 civilians, including children.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes were to support the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Russian warplanes have been carrying out air strikes in Deir al-Zor Province mainly in support of the Syrian military and allied Shi'ite militias, which have been waging their own assault against the IS group.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, and dpa