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MOSCOW, October 30. /TASS/. Russia’s Defense Ministry has been monitoring for a week how media "promote someone’s conclusion" that 80% of Russian airstrikes in Syria are allegedly "aimed not at ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - former name of the Islamic State terrorist organization]," the ministry’s official spokesman Igor Konashenkov told journalists on Friday.
"We have closely studied the interview with the spokesman of US Embassy in Moscow William Stephens published on the website of one of Russian media outlets with assessments of effectiveness of Russian aviation’s actions in Syria. The interview undoubtedly represents rare journalist luck. You don’t get to read something like this every day. It’s childishly naive," Konashenkov said. Stephens said in the interview that 80% of Russian airstrikes in Syria are not directed against ISIL.
"We have been following Reuters agency’s active promotion of someone’s ‘conclusion’ that 80% of Russian airstrikes were allegedly ‘directed not against ISIL facilities’. Everything is clear here. This misinformation was, by the way, commented on with arguments in the day of its emergence," he added.
Konashenkov also noted that Russian Defense Ministry has questions about Stephens’ statement that Russian aviation delivered airstrikes at the positions of the opposition, including moderate opposition.
"Should we consider ISIL, Jebhat al-Nusra and Jeish al-Fatah who decapitate their captives with delight as ‘opposition’ which is rather non-moderate? We are waiting for an answer from Mr Stephens," he said.
Konashenkov said he is concerned with the fact that an employee of US Embassy in Moscow made statements on behalf of US State Department "based on some fakes" published by Internet editions like "Syrian Network for Human Rights."
"We ask Mr Stephens to spend some of his precious time, contact staff of relevant American agencies. They will maybe tell him about this organization. Does he realize how long any ‘human rights activist’ will live on the territory controlled by ISIL or any other rather non-moderate ‘oppositionists’?" Konashenkov said.
Russian Aerospace Forces started a military operation against the Islamic State terrorist group (which is banned in Russia) in the Syrian territory at the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on September 30. The air group in Syria includes more than 50 warplanes, including Su-34 and Su-24M bombers; Su-25 assault aircraft; Su-30SM fighter jets as well as Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters. The Russian Navy is also involved in the military operation. The warships of the Russian Caspian flotilla delivered a massive cruise missile strike from the Kalibr-class sea-based missile system on the night to October 7.
The Russian authorities have totally excluded a possibility of any ground campaign in Syria.
The Islamic State is an extremist organization banned in Russia. In 2013-2014, it called itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). In June 2014, IS announce the establishment of the "Islamic caliphate" on the territories seized in Iraq and Syria. According to US’ Central Intelligence Agency, the extremist group includes around 30,000 people, while Iraqi authorities claim there are around 200,000 in IS. Among members of the group are citizens of 80 countries, including France, Great Britain, Germany, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, US, Canada, as well as Russia and other CIS countries. According to reports, militants now control around 40% of the Iraqi territory and 50% of the Syrian territory.