Russia hails successful anti-terror operation in Syria
Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has praised Moscow’s counter-terrorism military campaign in Syria, citing its success in testing new weapons and eliminating terrorists wreaking havoc in the Arab country.
“Special operations forces have demonstrated their high efficiency. They have played a key role in liquidating the terrorists, destroying critically important enemy facilities and directing airstrikes,” Shoigu told the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, in Moscow on Wednesday.
The Russian military had tested 162 types of weapons against militants in Syria, among them long-range cruise missiles carried by navy ships and strategic bombers, he said.
The Russian planes had also performed 1,760 sorties and conducted 5,682 airstrikes against terrorists’ infrastructure in Syria since the beginning of the operation in the Middle Eastern state in September 2015, the Russian defense minister added.
He further noted that Russia’s air raids had killed 3,119 militants and to destroyed 40 training camps, 475 command posts and 45 ammunition plants used by the Takfiri elements.
Almost 90 percent of all Russian military pilots have gained combat experience in the skies over Syria, Shoigu pointed out.
Elsewhere in his comments, Shoigu stressed that the Russian operation had prevented Syria’s disintegration and allowed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s troops to win some key ground.
“The breakup of the Syrian state has been prevented, a civil war has been practically stopped,” he said.
In a relevant development on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow that his country was waiting for the US to come up with proposals on possible cooperation in Syria.
“We have said what we are ready to talk. And we are waiting for clarification from Washington. We are ready to review any other proposals on cooperation in Syria,” he said.
Referring to the assertion, Lavrov said that Russia is open to dialogue with the US on safe zones but believes that any such plan needs to be coordinated with Damascus.
The top Russian diplomat also said that he had briefly discussed the issue with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a meeting in Germany last week. He added that the US official had told him that the subject was still being worked out.
“Of course we will advocate any initiatives of such kind related to Syrian territory to be agreed with the Syrian government,” he said.
Separately on Wednesday, the Syrian army and its allies wrested control over a district on the outskirts of the city of Aleppo.
The media bureau of operations command for the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement announced the liberation of the Souq al-Jibs neighborhood.
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also confirmed the recapture of the area.
The advance was said to be the Syrian army’s first from its lines in Aleppo, which was fully liberated last December.