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Kremlin refutes media report on Chechen special force unit allegedly deployed in Syria

February 08, 13:36 UTC+3 SOCHI
A video report aired by the Rossiya television channel on Sunday told about participation of a Chechen special task force unit in Russia's anti-terrorist operation in Syria
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Chechnya's Head Ramzan Kadyrov (archive)

Chechnya's Head Ramzan Kadyrov (archive)

© Yelena Afonina/TASS

SOCHI, February 8. /TASS/. Russia’s defense ministry has provided exhausting comments concerning Russia’s military units involved in the anti-terror operation in Syria, Russian president’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Monday commenting on a video report aired by the Rossiya television channel on Sunday which told about participation of a Chechen special task force unit in the anti-terrorist operation in Syria.

"The Russian defense ministry has been repeatedly telling who and for how long has been deployed to Syria and what they are doing there. I suggest you listen first of all to the defense ministry which has been providing exhausting information," Peskov said.

He stressed that Russia has only federal armed forces and internal troops. "Hence, the question about deployment of these or those servicemen is to be addressed to relevant agencies. And one should speak not about the Chechen special task force but about relevant federal units," he added.

Russia's military operation in Syria

Russia’s Aerospace Force started delivering strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist groups (both banned in Russia) on September 30, 2015. The air group initially comprised over 50 aircraft and helicopters, including Sukhoi Su-24M, Su-25SM and state-of-the-art Su-34 aircraft. They were redeployed to the Khmeimim airbase in the province of Latakia. On October 7, Moscow also involved the Russian Navy in the military operation. Four missile ships of the Caspian Flotilla fired 26 Kalibr cruise missiles (NATO codename Sizzler) at militants’ facilities in Syria.

In mid-November, after an alleged terrorist attack on Russian passenger jet that fell in Egypt killing 224 people on board, Moscow increased the number of aircraft taking part in the operation in Syria by several dozen and involved strategic bombers in the strikes as well. Targets of the Russian aircraft include terrorists’ gasoline tankers and oil refineries. Russia’s aircraft have made thousands of sorties since the start of the operation in Syria, with over a hundred of them performed by long-range aircraft.

On November 24, a Turkish F-16 fighter brought down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber involved in Moscow’s military operation against the Islamic State (a terrorist group outlawed in Russia).  Ankara claimed the warplane violated the Turkey’s airspace. The Russian Defense Ministry said the warplane was flying over Syrian territory without violating Turkey’s airspace. The Russian president referred to the attack as a “stab in Russia’s back” and promised that the move would cause response action from Russia. Moscow deployed new S-400 air defense systems in Syria in order to protect the warplanes involved in the military operation and started arming the fighters intended to provide air support to bombers and attack aircraft in Syria with air-to-air missiles.

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