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MOSCOW, April 27. /TASS/. Russian servicemen in Syria are now focusing on political settlement and delivering humanitarian aid but they will also continue destroying the financial base of terrorists, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Wednesday.
"Russian efforts today focus on political settlement of the conflict, delivery of humanitarian aid to the population of the regions liberated from terrorists. We have already delivered over 700 tons of food, medicaments, necessities to Syria," Shoigu said at the 5th Moscow International Security Conference.
He noted that Russian servicemen "plan to consistently destroy the economic base of ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - former name of the Islamic State terrorist organization banned in Russia) as their main source of income is oil smuggling."
"A powerful blow was dealt to terrorism in Syria. Military, material, technical and financial infrastructure of militants was undermined, their training camps and ammunition depots were destroyed," Shoigu said.
The defense minister reminded that Syrian army liberated 500 settlements and over 10,000 square kilometers of the territory with the help of Russian aviation. Government forces and "patriotic opposition" managed to gain an upper hand in all key directions and "create conditions for starting a peaceful process in the country," he concluded.
According to Shoigu, the Russian Defense Ministry positively assesses cooperation with US in Syria but Moscow and Washington should work together closer in the fight against terrorism.
"In general, we positively assess our cooperation with the United States in Syria. The bilateral agreement on preventing air incidents is working. Military agencies responsible for truce are cooperating," Shoigu said at the 5th Moscow International Security Conference.
The defense minister stressed that Russia and US, as permanent members of UN Security Council, bear "special responsibility for maintaining universal peace." "That’s why our countries should cooperate more closely against international terrorism. We are ready for that. Ball’s Washington’s court now," he added.
Shoigu reminded that the West often links providing support of US-led coalition to Russia with resignation of Syrian President Bashar Assad. "However, it is hard to believe these ‘good intentions’. A question arises - who prevented them from restoring peace and order in Iraq and Libya after ousting Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi?" the defense minister concluded.
The Kremlin press service released a statement on March 14 that the Russian and Syrian presidents, Vladimir Putin and Bashar Assad, agreed to start withdrawing the main part of the Russian aviation task force from Syria because the Russian Aerospace Forces had fulfilled the fundamental tasks which had been assigned to them. Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces 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.
Russia left an air flight control center in the Syrian territory that will monitor the observation of the Syrian ceasefire, the Kremlin said. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu ordered starting the Russian troops’ withdrawal as of March 15. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov said earlier that Russian forces will continue delivering airstrikes at terrorists in Syria.