The Russian defence ministry says two Russian troops have been killed in shelling in Syria’s east as Russian-backed regime forces come close to breaking IS siege on Deir ez-Zour.
The ministry’s statement quoted by Russian news agencies late on Monday said the two men died when a convoy escorting Russian cease-fire monitoring staff came under mortar fire outside the eastern city of Deir ez-Zour.
The ministry said one man died on the spot and the other died later of wounds in a hospital.
Russia has been providing air cover for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s offensive against both Islamic State group and moderate rebels since 2015. The Russian defence ministry said on Monday that Russian jets had made 80 flights to back Assad’s offensive on Deir ez-Zour, a key city that has been under IS siege for three years.
Syrian government forces and their allies are on the verge of breaking the nearly three-year siege imposed by the Islamic State group on parts of the city, opposition activists and state media said on Monday.
Breaking the siege on Deir ez-Zour would mark another victory for President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces have been advancing on several fronts against IS and rebel groups.