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Russia's Defense Ministry baffled by France's statements on Russian operation in Syria

January 16, 20:12 UTC+3
"It is not Russia that bears responsibility for creation of that hornet's nest but today's critics who have been supporting and arming Islamic 'opposition' groups since 2011," Igor Konashenkov said
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© Press Service of the Defense Ministry and the information/TASS

MOSCOW, January 16. /TASS/. Russia's Defence Ministry has expressed its bewilderment over the French defence minister's remarks on Russia's Aerospace Force's activities in Syria.

"The main and only goal of the Russian operation in Syria remains destruction of the largest hotbed of international terrorism which almost succeeded last year to absorb the whole territory of the United Nations' member country," the Russian defence ministry's spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said on Saturday.

"It is not Russia that bears responsibility for creation of that hornet's nest but today's critics who have been supporting and arming Islamic 'opposition' groups since 2011," the general said.

Besides, the general said that effectiveness of the Russian air strikes could be assessed "with the help of tangible hundreds of cities, towns and villages liberated by Syria’s armed forces and the country’s patriotic opposition and with the help of thousands of square kilometres of the Syrian land freed from terrorists."

"So we do not need to be those who have to persuade Paris of effectiveness of our actions against terrorists in Syria but those must do it who promised to avenge for the deaths of French nationals on November 13, 2015," Konashenkov said.

On Thursday, France’s Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that Russia’s actions against Daesh (Islamic State terrorist group outlawed in Russia) in Syria were insufficient and failed to convince Paris that Moscow’s top priority in Syria was to battle Islamists.

Russia’s aviation grouping has been delivering air strikes against the Islamic State terrorist organization in Syria since September 30 at 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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