Russian defense minister meets with Assad, conveys Putin's congrats over Deir al-Zour progress
DAMASCUS, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday, conveying Russian President Vladimir Putin's congratulations on the Deir al-Zour progress, state news agency SANA reported.
Both have talked about the cooperation between the Syrian and Russian military forces to carry on with the offensive to fully liberate Deir al-Zour city from the terrorists, said SANA.
The rare visit signifies the strong alliance between Damascus and Moscow, as the Russian air force has played a major role in enabling the Syrian army to break the Islamic State (IS) siege on Deir al-Zour in eastern Syria last week.
Moscow has also sent 157 engineers to defuse mines left by IS in Deir al-Zour.
The Syrian army has lifted the siege to the capital city of Deir al-Zour by breaking into the terror group's defense line around the Brigade 137 base of the Syrian army.
Lifting the siege of the base made a breach into the city, as the base is adjoining an enclave of government loyalists in the city.
On Saturday, the Syrian troops secured the main road to Deir al-Zour, through the desert region in the remote eastern countryside of Homs Province in central Syria.
The army also captured several key areas in the city and its countryside, such as breaking the siege on the Deir al-Zour air base, capturing the Teym oil field and the Tharda mountains.
Now, the army forces will proceed to drive out IS from the half of Deir al-Zour they are still holding, before proceeding to dislodge the terror-designated group from the countryside of Deir al-Zour.
Since entering the city last week, the government has sent hundreds of tons of food and medical items to around 93,000 civilians who have suffered during IS three-year-long siege.
Deir al-Zour is the last major stronghold of IS, as the terror-designated group is also losing its de facto capital of Raqqa to the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which has captured more than 60 percent of Raqqa.[ Editor: meng ]