Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on September 12 to discuss the war in Syria, Russian news agencies cited the Russian Defense Ministry as saying.

The Russian Defense Ministry reportedly said on September 12 that Shoigu and Assad discussed military cooperation between Moscow and Damascus as well as the countries' joint efforts to defeat the so-called Islamic State (IS) terror group in Syria.

The ministry said Sergei Shoigu visited Syria on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The discussions reportedly centered on “current questions of military and technical cooperation… as well as certain aspects of the cooperation in the fight against terrorist groups operating in Syria.”

The meeting focused on plans to recapture the eastern city Deir al-Zour from IS militants.  

Russia's RIA Novosti news agency quoted Alexander Lapin, chief of staff of the Russian military contingent in Syria, as saying on September 12 that “the liberation of [Deir al-Zour] city is proceeding.”  Lapin reportedly also said that the Syrian Army won back 85 percent of the country.