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Russian Foreign Ministry rules out handover of Syrian territories to Islamic State

March 02, 17:04 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Doing that would mean contributing to the establishment of what the terrorist group wants to establish - a recreation center for terrorists
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© Mikhail Pochuev/ITAR-TASS

MOSCOW, March 2. /TASS/. The Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, banned in Russia, should not get an inch of Syrian land, any talk of territory handover to it is sacrilegious, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday.

"Giving the IS even an inch of land, officially or unofficially, turning a blind eye to that means to contribute to the establishment of what they want to establish - a state of their own, for terrorists worldwide to have a base, a recreation center," Zakharova said.

"Unambiguously not, there may be no granting of territory, technical means, moral or ideological support," she said.

"We are ready to fight the IS and are doing that, first of all, in the interests of our citizens, but also in the interests of our citizens and the citizens of bordering countries," Zakharova said.

"Speaking of us being ready to give part of the Syrian territory is sacrilegious not only regarding the position of Russia but all these states," she 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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