Russian Defense Ministry denies US media claims on establishing military base in Palmyra

Lattakia, SANA – The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov denied media claims on constructing a new Russian military base in Palmyra city in Homs countryside.

“There have been no and are no ‘new Russian bases’ on the territory of Syria’s Palmyra,” said Konashenkov in a press conference held on Tuesday, commenting on AP’s reports citing a US cultural heritage protection organization that Russia’s military are building a new military base in Palmyra, as well as on the publication of a satellite image of a military town in close proximity to the cultural facilities.

“The satellite photographs of the area’s territory, published by UNESCO and mentioned by the [AP] agency… feature a temporary camp of units of the International Anti-Mine Center of Russia’s Armed Forces, which earlier engaged in mine clearing in the historical part of Palmyra, and today [engage in mine clearing] in the locality of Tadmur,” Konashenkov clarified.

He went on saying that “The deployment of the temporary camp until the end of the mine clearing effort has been agreed with the Culture Ministry and other state institutions of the Syrian Arab Republic.”

He indicated that the temporary camp houses accommodation modules, a field hospital where aid is provided to local residents, as well as a field bakery “whose products are also handed out to Syrians.”

“I want to note that the temporary camp of military engineers, the hospital and the bakery constitute no secret,” Konashenkov added.

“More than 150 journalists of leading foreign media got familiarized with their work and made journalistic stories from there during the latest press tour on May 5, when Palmyra hosted a concert of Maestro Valery Gergiyev with the Mariinsky Theater orchestra,” he noted.

“Besides, I will recall that jointly with foreign journalists, a numerous group of international UNESCO experts who flew to attend the concert visited the camp,” the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said, affirming that AP representatives were invited to the press tour on May 5,”But for unknown reasons, they refused to take part in it then.”

“I believe that if journalists of the influential agency had personally visited Palmyra then and that temporary camp, today there would be no ‘pseudo-sensation’, invented by them, on construction by Russians of a ‘new base in Palmyra’,” Konashenkov said.

R.J/H. Said

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