Russian air strikes in Syria have weakened the Islamic State jihadist organisation and other armed groups and strengthened the military, the Syrian armed forces chief of staff said Thursday.
"After the Russian air strikes that weakened the fighting capabilities of Daesh and other terrorist organisations, Syria's armed forces have maintained the military initiative," General Ali Abdullah Ayoub said, quoted by state TV.
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"Daesh" is an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.
Ayoub added: "Syria's armed forces began today (Thursday) a vast offensive to defeat the terrorist groups and liberate the areas and villages that have suffered from terrorism and its crimes."
On Wednesday, a military source told AFP that the Syrian army had launched a broad ground operation in the central province of Hama with Russian air support.