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Kremlin dismisses claims Russian planes destroyed hospital in Syria as unacceptable

February 16, 13:31 UTC+3 MOSCOW February, 15. /TASS
The Kremlin spokesman recalled that Syria’s ambassador to Russia, Riyadh Haddad, said on Tuesday the hospital in Idlib province was destroyed by the Americans, and not the Russian air group
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Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov

© Sergei Fadeichev/TASS

MOSCOW, February 15. /TASS/. The Kremlin has dismissed as unacceptable the allegations the Russian air group in Syria has destroyed a hospital in Syria.

"We are strongly against such claims, the more so, since each time those who come up with such charges prove unable to somehow confirm their groundless accusations," Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said.

Asked for a comment regarding reports a hospital in Syria’s Idlib province had been bombed, as well as claims the Russian air group was responsible, Peskov invited everybody to rely "on the root source first and foremost." "In this particular case the representatives of Syrian authorities are the root source," he said.

Peskov recalled that Syria’s ambassador to Russia, Riyadh Haddad, said on Tuesday the hospital in Idlib province was destroyed by the Americans, and not the Russian air group.

He added that "the representatives of the Syrian authorities earlier in the day made a number of statements on that score to declare their opinion as to who may have been behind the bombings." Peskov refrained from further explanations.

Earlier, the international organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) claimed that at least seven people died and eight of its staff members went missing at a hospital near the city of Maarrat el-Nu’man, Idlib Province. The organization speculated that either Russian planes or Syrian government troops might have been responsible for the attack on the hospital.

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.

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.

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