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Russia received no proofs of civilian deaths from air strikes in Syria — foreign ministry

February 08, 2016, 18:42 UTC+3

According to the ministry spokeswoman, Russia's requests to the countries of the US-led coalition for jointly determining the targets have been left unanswered

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Russian Foreign Ministry building in Moscow

Russian Foreign Ministry building in Moscow

© Gennady Khamelyanin/TASS Archive

MOSCOW, February 8. /TASS/. Moscow has received no convincing proofs of civilian deaths from Russia’s air strikes in Syria, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Monday.

"We are confirming again that the Russian air task force’s operation is aimed exclusively at suppressing the terrorist threat in the Syrian Arab Republic," Zakharova said.

"The choice of these targets and actions within this operation are being verified and are regularly reported in the media by the Russian Defense Ministry in the spirit of transparency. At the same time, we have not been given any convincing proofs up until now that testify to civilian deaths from Russian air strikes," the spokesperson said.

Also, all of Russia’s requests to the countries delivering air strikes on the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic as part of the US-led coalition for jointly determining the targets have been left unanswered, Zakharova said.

"Meanwhile, we see that militants of the so-called moderate forces of the anti-government opposition are not ceasing their combat activity in various areas in Syria, which, however, is not reported by the Western media," the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.

Zakharova also mentioned the Inter-Syrian talks in Geneva to emphasize that "it is exactly the radical opposition manipulated by its foreign sponsors that has advanced unacceptable conditions for their streamlining as compared with the delegation of the Syrian government and patriotically minded opponents of official Damascus."

"We stand for the Geneva talks to be based on the need to fully implement all provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 2254. We’ll also abide by this stance at an approaching meeting of the International Syria Support Group in Munich on February 11, urging all its participants to make unbiased assessments and display a constructive approach," Zakharova said.

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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