MOSCOW, October 21. /TASS/. Russia cannot allow the spread of the Islamic State terrorist group (IS) threat to Russia and its allies and will continue to render assistance to the legitimate government of Syria, Russian Defense Minister, General Sergey Shoigu said on Wednesday.
"In recent years, the activity of religious extremism under the banner of the so-called Islamic State (outlawed in Russia) has considerably intensified. We cannot allow the expansion of the terrorist threat and its spreading to the territory of Russia and our allies," Shoigu said at a joint collegium meeting of the Russian and Belarusian defense ministries.
The minister said that is why Russia has decided to answer the request of friendly Syria and provide to the country’s legitimate authorities military assistance in the fight against IS. "The Syrian government forces with our air support have changed from defence to offensive and liberated part of their territory that was controlled by the Islamic State militants," Shoigu said.
"We plan to continue to provide assistance to the legitimate government of Syria further and to create conditions for the settlement of the conflict," the defense minister added.
According to him, in the difficult international situation it is necessary to form and develop effective mechanisms for ensuring global security, as well as to have combat-effective armed forces.
Russia’s Aerospace Forces started delivering pinpoint strikes at facilities of the Islamic State terrorist organization in Syria on September 30. The air group comprises over 50 aircraft and helicopters, including Sukhoi Su-24M, Su-25SM and state-of-the-art Su-34 aircraft. Hundreds of terrorist facilities have been hit by Russian aircraft. On October 7, four missile ships of the Russian Navy’s Caspian Flotilla fired 26 Kalibr cruise missiles (NATO codename Sizzler) at militants’ facilities in Syria. On October 8, the Syrian army passed to a large-scale offensive.
Russia’s forces conduct the operation at the request from Syrian President Bashar Assad. Russia does not plan to take part in ground operations in Syria.
According to UN statistics, fighting between Syrian government troops and militants has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions since its start in 2011.
An international peace conference on Syria, dubbed Geneva-2, organized by Russia and the United States and designed to negotiate a solution to the Syrian crisis, held in January and February 2014, brought no particular progress.