Moscow, SANA- The Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out 5,662 sorties since the beginning of its military air operations against the terrorists’ sites in Syria, supporting the Syrian Arab Army’s efforts to establish control over 217 villages and towns.
“Since September 30, the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria have made 5,662 sorties, including 145 sorties made by strategic missile and long-range bomber aviation, the Russian military have also carried out 97 launches of sea-based and air-based missiles,” Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoy, chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces told reporters, adding that this has contributed to liberating 217 populated areas and over 1,000 square kilometers in Syria from terrorists.
Rudskoy affirmed that Russian aircrafts have observed the continued arrival of ammunition and weapons to the terrorists in Syria under the cover of humanitarian aid, pointing out that the US-led coalition seeks to downplay the results of Russian operations in Syria.
He stressed the importance of humanitarian operations in Syria while ensuring that they won’t be used by terrorists, adding that the Russian Air Force is providing basic humanitarian aid to the civilians of Deir Ezzor city which has been besieged by terrorists.
On a relevant note, Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Maj. Igor Konashenkov said the ministry refutes allegations of the Russian air force delivering airstrikes on civilian targets in Syria, asserting that Russian pilots do not carry out strikes on terrorist sites if there’s even a slim chance of injuring civilians in the process, while on the other end of the spectrum the US-led coalition considers the death of 49 civilians a trivial issue, referring to what Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr said regarding the US military delivering airstrikes on condition that the number of civilian deaths would not exceed 50 people.
Konashenkov noted that lies about civilian casualties due to Russian airstrikes were being circulated even before the Russian airstrikes actually began, criticizing Amnesty International for relying of fabricated information that it said it received via phone and social networking.
He gave a few examples of such falsified information about civilian casualties which include a claim by Amnesty International early in October 2015 that a Russian airstrikes targeted Omar Bin al-Khattab mosque in Jisr al-Shughour in Idleb province which claimed caused the death of civilians, when surveillance images taken by Russian drones on October 23rd show the mosque to be intact and undamaged.
Konashenkov went citing allegations about alleged airstrikes on a marketplace in Ariha in Idleb on November 29th, claims that are refuted by images taken before that date that show that the area was destroyed due to clashes on the ground long before that date.
He also discussed a claim by the UK-based “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” which claimed that Russian aircrafts targeted a school in Anjara in Aleppo’s countryside, killing 8 to 20 people, but analysis of the images of the destroyed school show that it was targeted by a air-to-surface missile of a type that Russia doesn’t use; rather it’s the US-led coalition that uses such missiles, and conveniently, more than 10 coalition planes and a number of their drones were operating in Aleppo countryside when the school in question was destroyed.
Konashenkov added that the coalition does not reveal data about the targets it hits in Aleppo, but Russia possesses much information about the actual results of the coalition’s operations in Syria, asserting that this information conflicts with what the coalition declares, and in the future Russia might have to make such information public to refute allegations and lies directed at it if its partners remain silent about the results of their own airstrikes in Syria.
Manar al-Frieh / Manal Ismael / Hazem Sabbagh