Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says the Syrian government has increased the size of the territory under its control by 2 1/2 times in just two months. Shoigu made the comments in an interview with state-owned TV channel Rossiya 24 on Sunday in which he predicted the end of the fight with the Islamic State group. Shoigu said the fall of the militant stronghold Deir el- Zour on the Euphrates "will say a lot, if not everything, about the end of the battle with" the Islamic State group. Russia is a close ally of the Syrian regime and has been providing air support for Syrian forces since 2015. Under pressure from Western-backed forces in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State group has seen the territory it holds contract in recent months.
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