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MOSCOW, February 11. /TASS/. Russian Defense Ministry does not intend to change the strategy of its military operation in Syria in accordance with Pentagon’s recommendations, the ministry’s official spokesman Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Thursday.
"We have lately heard advice from the Pentagon on the necessity to change our strategy in Syria to ‘help’ the United States attain political transition of power there. We will remind especially for such advisors that the aim of our operation in Syria is to destroy terrorism - direct and clear threat to security of our country and the world," Konashenkov said.
He noted that all political issues should be resolved only by Syrians themselves with international mediation, "not in tranches but at the negotiations table." "We never had and never will have any other ‘strategies’," the spokesman noted.
"We have clearly seen over the last five years the results of Washington’s strategies of ‘political transitions’ in the Middle East near Russian borders. Instead of ‘triumph of democracy’, there is devastation, blood, refugees everywhere. Is this why foreign strategists are now talking about the necessity of launching ground operations in Syria and Libya? Maybe these advisors should better stop making the same mistakes over again?" Konashenkov said.
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.
Since 2014, the US-led coalition has also been delivering air strikes against militants in Syria and Iraq.
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.