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Russian General Staff : Russian warplanes support Free Syrian Army offensive

December 14, 2015, 12:00 UTC+3

Over 5,000 troops of the Free Syrian Army are on an offensive in the Homs, Hama, Aleppo and Raqqah provinces of Syria

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MOSCOW, December 14. /TASS/. Free Syrian Army units with a total strength of over 5,000 troops are on an offensive in the Homs, Hama, Aleppo and Raqqah provinces, Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov said on Monday.

"The number of such Free Syrian Army units is constantly growing. The Russian air task force delivers 30-40 air strikes daily for their support alone. They are also receiving assistance in the form of armaments, ammunition and supplies," Gerasimov said at a meeting with representatives of foreign military diplomatic corps.

The Russian air task force operating in Syria on the request of the legitimate Syrian government is delivering missile and bomb strikes exclusively against command posts and the places of militants’ concentration, ammunition depots and Islamic State terrorist training camps, the chief of the Russian General Staff said.

Therefore, the Russian aviation is creating conditions for the successful offensive of Syrian armed forces, he added.

"Russia is also facilitating uniting the efforts of the government troops and Syrian opposition units in the efforts to rout terrorists," the chief of the Russian General Staff said.

The Russian Aerospace Force is also destroying oil refineries and oil pumping stations controlled by the Islamic State in order to deprive terrorists of financing sources, as well as vehicles transporting oil products in places of terrorists' concentration and along the routes of transporting oil towards the Turkish border, the chief of the Russian General Staff said.

According to Gerasimov, Russia’s Defense Ministry is ready to cooperate with any countries on the Syria problem.

"We stand for developing contacts with any states on the Syria problem," he said.

There are examples of such cooperation between the West and Russia in modern history, Gerasimov said.

"This involves joint activity during the operation of the international security assistance force in Afghanistan, the solution of the problem of the Syrian chemical weapons, the breakthrough negotiations on the Iran nuclear program, the signing and the implementation of the Minsk accords [on the ceasefire in east Ukraine] and the fight against piracy in the Horn of Africa," Gerasimov said.

Russia’s aviation grouping has been delivering air strikes against the Islamic State terrorist organization in Syria since September 30 on the request of Syria’s President Bashar Assad.

From November 17, the Russian aviation grouping in Syria switched to delivering massive strikes against militants, including with the involvement of strategic bombers. As the Russian Defense Ministry reported, Russia’s air grouping has focused on destroying terrorist-controlled oil extraction, storage, transportation and refining facilities.

Since 2014, the US-led coalition has also been delivering air strikes against militants in Syria and Iraq

Moscow and Washington earlier signed a memorandum on safe flights over Syria to prevent any air incidents between warplanes of the Russian air group and the US-led coalition.

Russia’s Defense Ministry has numerously urged foreign counterparts to exchange information on targets in Syria but the Pentagon has repeatedly said that it won’t provide reconnaissance data to Russia as long as Moscow supports Assad.

Meanwhile, Russia and France agreed in late November on coordinating their activities against terrorists.

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