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General says no Russian aviation over Deir ez-Zor on day of airstrike at Syrian forces

December 09, 2015, 10:30 UTC+3
The Russian Defense Ministry’s official spokesperson has commented on media reports that Russia could be involved in delivering an airstrike at positions of the Syrian government forces last Sunday
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© Alexander Yelistratov/TASS

MOSCOW, December 9. /TASS/. Russian planes did not fly over Deir ez-Zor on December 6 where an airstrike was delivered at the army camp of the Syrian government forces, Russian Defense Ministry’s official spokesperson General Major Igor Konashenkov said on Wednesday.

Commenting on media reports that Russia could be involved in delivering an airstrike at positions of the Syrian government forces last Sunday, Konashenkov said: "According to the General Staff of the Syrian Army, aviation of the Western coalition delivered an airstrike on December 6 at the army camp of the 168th brigade of the 7th division of the Syrian government forces two kilometers to the west of Deir ez-Zor."

"As a result of the airstrike, three infantry fighting vehicles and four vehicles equipped with heavy machine guns were destroyed. 12 people were injured and four more killed. There were no Russian planes over that region. We coordinate all our sorties in the Syrian airspace with Air Traffic Control and General Staff of the Syrian government forces," Konashenkov said.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry said on Monday that four jets of the US-led coalition fired nine missiles at an army camp of the government forces in the Deir ez-Zor province in the country’s east. Three soldiers were killed by the airstrike and 13 more were injured. The incident occurred on Sunday, December 6. The Pentagon refuted the reports saying that the coalition attacked drilling rigs 55 kilometers from the place of the attack.

Russia says coalition planes spotted over Deir ez-Zor when Syria’s army was attacked

According to the general, our warplanes from two countries part of the international coalition were over Deir ez-Zor in northeastern Syria when the field camp of the Syrian army was attacked.

"If they are not involved in this attack, then why do the Pentagon representatives and the leaders of the anti-Islamic State coalition silence the presence of planes of their allies in the Deir ez-Zor area on December 6?" Konashenkov said.

Konashenkov said "the answer who in fact attacked the Syrian forces from the air will be known very soon" when Syria’s authorities publish the results of the investigation into this incident and the type of ammunition that was used.

Russian military operation in Syria

Russia’s Aerospace Forces started delivering pinpoint strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations, which are banned in Russia, on September 30, 2015, on a request from Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The air group initially comprised over 50 aircraft and helicopters, including Sukhoi Su-24M, Su-25SM and state-of-the-art Su-34 aircraft. They were redeployed to the Khmeimim airbase in the province of Latakia.

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.

In mid-November, Russia increased the number of aircraft taking part in the operation in Syria to 69 and involved strategic bombers in strikes at militants. As the Russian Defense Ministry reported, Russia’s air grouping has focused on destroying terrorist-controlled oil extraction, storage, transportation and refining facilities.

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