MOSCOW, January 11. /TASS/. More than 150 cities and villages were liberated from terrorists in Syria in late December - early January thanks to Russian air strikes, Lieutenant General Sergey Rudskoy, chief of the main operations department of the Russian General Staff, told journalists on Monday.
"In December 2015, militants were driven from 134 cities and towns and from 19 settlements more in the first days of the new year," he said. "The biggest success has been achieved in the provinces of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama, Homs, and Raqqah."
According to Rudskoy, since the beginning of the year the Russian aviation group has delivered strikes at nearly 1,100 terrorist facilities in Syria.
"A total of 311 sorties have been made over the first 10 days of 2016 during which strikes were delivered at 1,097 facilities in the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Latakia, Hama, Homs, Damascus, Deir ez-Zor, Hasakeh, Deraa and Raqqa," he said.
According to him, the airstrikes were delivered on the infrastructure facilities, on oil production and processing facilities, on the concentration of militant groups and military equipment to undermine the terrorists’ potential and provide direct support to the Syrian government troops and other formations combating the Islamic State terrorist organization.
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 aviation group 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. Also, overnight to October 7, the Caspian Flotilla ships delivered a massive strike on the IS objectives in Syria, using Kalibr NK shipborne cruise missiles.
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 Russian authorities have said on many occasions that Russia’s armed forces would not take part in any ground operation in Syria. The time limit of the operation will depend on the results of the fight against the Islamic State group.
The General Staff reports that over 150 units of the opposition are fighting IS in Syria - besides the government forces. The Russian Defence Ministry confirmed it might support the "patriotic" opposition. Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov said previously the Russian Air Force delivers daily 30-40 airstrikes in support of the opposition.