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MOSCOW, March 16. /TASS/. Attempts to present the operation of Russia’s Aerospace Forces in Syria as another Afghanistan was a media campaign that has ended in failure, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
"We should be aware that it was a well-planned, ‘saucy’ media campaign aimed at presenting all operations by Russia’s air group in Syria as another Afghanistan," Zakharova said on a Moscow radio station. "The purpose was to hit each of us real hard. But the media campaign has proved abortive, on the other hand."
Zakharova remarked that this sort of coverage had nothing to do with real journalism.
According to the spokeswoman, the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria acted solely in the interests of Russia and the fight against terrorism.
"We did not reinforce anyone except the positions of the official, real Syrian army, the one controlled by Damascus in its fight against terrorist groups. We were there for own sake, first and foremost. This must be clearly understood. This is the pragmatism that in no way contradicts patriotism," she said. The diplomat noted that the stance of incumbent Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would not weaken after the decision to withdraw the main part of the Russian Aerospace Forces from Syria.
According to her, the political settlement in Syria has been launched not in theory but directly at the negotiating table. "We have established a communication channel with the United States for our military who address urgent issues online," she said.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered to begin the pullout of the main part of the Russian air group from Syria as of March 15. He said the tasks set to the Russian military had been coped with "by and large." Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov earlier said that strikes against terrorists would continue.
Russia joined the operation against terrorists in Syria on September 30, 2015, at the request of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Ceasefire took effect in Syria on February 27, 2016. It had been agreed by Russia and the United States. The ceasefire does not apply to the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra groups (both outlawed in Russia), and also other groups declared terrorist by the UN Security Council. Russia will leave an air flight control center in the Syrian territory that will monitor the observation of the Syrian ceasefire. The military remaining in Syria will be protected by the air defense systems deployed at Hmeimim air base.