Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told the press Saturday that his country’s intervention in Syria over the past three years helped the government there defeat the Islamist extremists.
“Over the course of the operation, 87,500 militants were destroyed, 1,141 settlements and over 95 per cent of Syria’s territory was liberated,” Shoigu told the Fifth Council of Defense Ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Russia has since September 2015 deployed such advanced weaponry as the SU-34, SU-30SM and SU-5S fighter jets and bombers, Tu-22M3, Tu-160 and Tu-95MS strategic bombers, and the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier used to launch the MiG-29 fighters to battle Islamic extremist forces in Syria.
Russia has also boosted its defensive capabilities in Syria and the Mediterranean by deploying the missile cruiser Moskva stationed near the Latakia coastline – used to boost air defenses – and by deploying S-1, S-300, and S-400 anti-aircraft missile defense systems at its bases in Syria.
The turning point in the war, which the UN estimates has killed more than 400,000 people since 2011, came in December 2016 when Syrian forces, backed by Russian air power, recaptured the city of Aleppo, once a major operating base for such extremist groups as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
The routing of extremist groups has allowed Iran, Russia and Turkey to negotiate humanitarian corridors and de-escalation zones in and around civilian centers in the country. Russia has delivered hundreds of tonnes of humanitarian aid over the past several years.
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has always maintained that its aiding of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s government has helped prevent the partitioning of the country.
The Russians have also blamed the US for ignoring the long-term effects of “their meddling in Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies