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Russian General Staff: Enlisting Syrian opposition in fight against IS pays off

December 28, 2015, 21:51 UTC+3

According to the General Staff, more than 150 units of opposition are fighting against Islamic State in Syria apart from government forces

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© AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool

MOSCOW, December 28./TASS/. The activity of the Russian Defense Ministry to cut off financing to Islamic State and the involvement of "patriotically minded opposition" in fight against terrorists bears fruit, Lieutenant-General Sergey Rudskoy, the head of the General Staff’s main operational directorate, told journalists on Monday.

"The Russian Defense Ministry intends to continue work aimed at uniting efforts of all forces interested in Syria’s liberation from international terrorists," said Rudskoy quoted on the ministry’s website.

In earlier remarks on Monday, the general spoke about support of Russian warplanes of the Syrian opposition forces’ offensive on Raqqa, which is considered to be the capital of the Islamic State terrorist organization.

"An offensive has also been mounted in other directions. With the support of the Russian aviation, units of the Syrian democratic army under the command of Ayman Al-Ghanim conduct an offensive on the IS capital — the city of Raqqa," Rudskoy said.

Units of "patriotically minded opposition" have also achieved success in other regions of Syria, the General Staff reports.

According to the General Staff, more than 150 units of opposition are fighting against Islamic State in Syria apart from government forces. Earlier, the ministry voiced its readiness to support "patriotically minded opposition". In particular, General Staff chief Valery Gerasimov said Russian warplanes were daily making 30 to 40 airstrikes in support of the opposition.

Russia’s aerospace forces launched a military operation in Syria on September 30 after the Federation Council unanimously approved President Vladimir Putin’s request for the use of the armed forces against terrorists outside the territory of Russia. On the same day, Russia’s Aerospace Forces started to deliver the first pinpointed airstrikes against the militants’ positions. The Russian aviation grouping comprises more than 50 aircraft and helicopters, including the Sukhoi Su-34 and Su-24M bombers, Su-25 attack aircraft, Su-30SM fighters and Mil Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters.

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

The airstrikes are conducted at the request of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The time limit of the operation will depend on the results of the fight against the Islamic State group, which is banned as a terrorist organization in Russia.

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