The Russian defense ministry says Russian demining experts have arrived in Syria to start clearing mines in the ancient town of Palmyra.

The recent recapture of Palmyra by Syrian troops under the cover of Russian airstrikes was an important victory over Islamic State extremists who operated a 10-month reign of terror there.

Russia has pledged to help the Syrian government with clearing the archaeological sites of mines, and the defense ministry said in a statement on Thursday that the first demining group landed early Thursday at Russia's base in Syria. It was not immediately clear when the Russians would get to Palmyra.

The demining is expected to take several months.