MOSCOW, September 30. /TASS/. Russia’s losses over the three years of its operation in Syria have amounted to 112 people, a senior Russian lawmaker said on Sunday.
"As of today, the losses of our armed forces in Syria stand at 112 people, with the crashes of An-26 and Il-20 accounting for about a half of them," Viktor Bondarev, chairman of the defense and security committee of Russia’s Federation Council upper parliament house and former commander of Russia’s aerospace forces, told journalists.
"Material losses include eight planes, seven helicopters and, probably, one or two armored personnel carriers and armored motorcars," he added.
Bondarev recalled that in the first three years of the war in Afghanistan, almost 4,800 Soviet soldiers had been killed, "at least 60 tanks, at least 400 armored vehicles, 15 planes and 97 helicopters" had been lost. "Let us compare with the ‘progressive West’: over the three years of the war in Iraq (2003-2006) the US-led coalition lost 2,515 servicemen, including 2,309 Americans, ten to twenty Abrams ranks, several dozens of armored personnel carriers, at least 50 Bradley fighting vehicles, 15 planes and about 80 helicopters," he noted.
"Russia’s counter-terrorist operation in Syria has demonstrated: we have learnt how to conduct warfare. As the major criterion of military prowess is not the very fact of victory but its price," he stressed.
Russia’s counter-terrorist operation in Syria has helped protect Russia from terrorists as many of them had Russian passports, a senior Russian lawmaker said.
"When we launched our operation against international terrorism in Syria three years ago, more than two thirds of that country’s territory was controlled by Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra (both outlawed in Russia as terrorist operations) and other terrorist organizations whose atrocities terrorized the local population," Viktor Bondarev, chairman of the defense and security committee of Russia’s Federation Council upper parliament house and former commander of Russia’s aerospace forces, told journalists. He noted that these groups "are operating not only in the Middle East and their members are not only Arabs."
He cited data from the Russian General Staff indicating that "about 4,000 militants with Russian passports and about 5,000 citizens of post-Soviet republics fought for Islamic State." In his words, this statistics cover only those who were identified.
"Most of them were well-trained and were ready to take arms. And these people had Russian passports and could enter out country any time. Should we were not fighting against international terrorism outside our country, this flow might have flooded back to Russia," he said.
"It means we have done two things of paramount importance: we have liberated Syria from terrorists (more than 98% of its territory is free from them) and we have protected Russia," he stressed.
About 85,000 terrorists were killed in airstrikes delivered by Russia’s aerospace forces over the three years of the counter-terrorist operation in Syria, Viktor Bondarev, chairman of the defense and security committee of Russia’s Federation Council upper parliament house and former commander of Russia’s aerospace forces, said.
"Over the three years, tens of thousands of terrorists’ targets - munitions depots, strongholds, control centers - have been hit. About 100,000 terrorists have been killed, with about 85,000 of them neutralized by our aerospace forces," he said, noting "the high precision of the use of air weapons."
"Our aerospace forces have been delivering and continue to deliver pinpoint strikes on terrorists’ targets," he stressed.
The Russian taskforce, in his words, has managed to stop terrorists’ attacks, break their defense and gain a stronghold for Syrian government forces. "The tasks we set in Syria have been accomplished. The majority of Syria’s territory has been liberated from terrorists," he said, adding he is convinced that remaining militants will in the long run be done away with.
Russia’s geostrategic benefits from the counter-terrorist operation in Syria are evident as the country has managed to strengthen its positions in the Middle East, retain its positions on the global energy market and demonstrate its military might, a senior Russian lawmaker said.
"It should be taken into account that participation in the counter-terrorist operation in Syria has helped Russia test many types of weapons and military hardware and demonstrate our military might, and, hence, secure us even from attempts at possible aggression by NATO countries, which had not seen before 2015 the breakthrough our army and the defense industry had made over the past 15 years. Moreover, Russia has consolidated its positions in the Middle East and strengthened its authority worldwide," Viktor Bondarev, chairman of the defense and security committee of Russia’s Federation Council upper parliament house and former commander of Russia’s aerospace forces, told journalists.
Apart from that, Russia established two military bases: in Hmeymim and in Tartus. "The United States has several hundred bases while we withdrew our troops from the countries where we helped fight against aggressors and offered military political protection. Thus, when we withdrew troops from Afghanistan we lost positions in the region, ceding them to the United States," he said.
Now, in his words, thanks to the political will of the current Russian leadership Russia is avoiding such mistakes and the presence of the Russian military will help stabilize the situation in Syria and create conditions for its post-war revival.
He also pointed to the fact that the United States’ actions is Syria were geared to have it lose its sovereignty so that it could "implement a project for the construction of a gas pipeline from Qatar that depends on it to Europe." In this event, "we would have lost if not the entire but at least a larger segment of the gas market that would be a blow on our economy," Bondarev said, adding that along with that Syria is an importer of Russian goods.
"So, the expediency and legitimacy of deployment of our contingent to Syria and Russia’s participation in the affairs of the sovereign Arab state are obvious. Achievements and geostrategic benefits are evident as well," he stressed.