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MOSCOW, December 11. /TASS/. The area of influence of the Islamic State terrorist group (outlawed in Russia) is expanding, militants have seized about 70% of Syria’s territory, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Friday.
"The Islamic State area of influence is expanding. Militants have seized about 70% of the Syrian territory. The number of terrorists amounts to about 60,000 people," he said.
"There is a threat that their actions will be transferred to Central Asia and the Caucasus," the minister said.
Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov earlier said that from 25,000 to 30,000 foreigners, including from Russia, were fighting in the ranks of Islamic State. The CIA estimated the number of militants at about 30,000 people, while the Iraqi government said there were 200,000 Islamic State fighters.
The Russian Aerospace Forces have destroyed over 8,000 terrorist military facilities since the start of the operation in Syria, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu noted.
"In all, our combat aircrafts made some 4,000 sorties and destroyed more than 8,000 facilities of the terrorist military infrastructure," he said.
According to him, the Islamic State was suffering major damage after Russian air strikes.
On September 30 Russia’s Federation Council unanimously approved President Vladimir Putin’s request to launch a military operation in Syria against Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist groups. Russian Aerospace Defense Forces delivered first targeted airstrikes at militants’ positions on the same day. More than 50 jets and helicopters take part in the operation, including Su-34 and Su-24M fighter jets, Su-25 aircraft, Su-30SM fighter aircraft, and Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters.
Russia began to deliver strikes against militants in Syria on September 30 at the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The US-led international coalition has conducted a military operation against terrorists in Syria and Iraq since 2014.