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Syria's besieged Deir-ez-Zor gets Russian humanitarian aid

February 11, 2016, 7:17 UTC+3

The 50-tonne cargo was parachuted from an altitude of 4,000 meters to the government-controlled areas near Deir-ez-Zor

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© Russian Defense Ministry /TASS

LATAKIA, February 11. /TASS/. Syria’s military transport aircraft delivered on Wednesday another batch of Russian-Syrian humanitarian aid to residents of the city of Deir-ez-Zor besieged by militants.

The 50-tonne cargo was dropped on Russian P-7 parachute platforms from an altitude of 4,000 meters to the government-controlled areas near Deir-ez-Zor, the largest city in Syria’s eastern regions.

The spokesman for the Russian Aerospace Force’s grouping in Syria told reporters that the operation to deliver humanitarian aid to the city besieged by Islamic State gunmen (outlawed in Russia) did not take "longer than 1.5-2 hours."

"The parachuting is carried out, as a rule, at night when neither a plane nor platforms with cargoes can be noticed, or in the daylight when fighter jets escort cargo aircraft," he said. "But it is evident that if the militants try to attack the plane or the cargoes at the time, they will instantly expose their location."

Earlier, the spokesman for Russia’s Defense Ministry, Maj Gen Igor Konashenkov, said that gunmen possessed the weapons capable of shelling Syria’s military transport aircraft carrying humanitarian aid.

"In Russia the cargoes are parachuted from an altitude between 600 and 1,000 meters but there (in Syria) it cannot work," he said. "The 4,000-meter altitude has been chosen because of the anti-aircraft weapons (in the hands of extremists) and lots of other factors. The platforms are dropped in one spot, the time spread is 21 seconds."

"Even in these hard conditions, they (Syrian pilots - eds. TASS) have never missed. All the platforms were delivered to the destinations, covering areas of around 25 square kilometers," Konashenkov said. "My experience proves they have succeeded in dropping cargoes in a three-by-three kilometer zone."

The deliveries of humanitarian cargoes are reported via channels of Syria’s intelligence service, the Russian general said.

"On average, the cargoes need up to 550 seconds to reach the ground and then Syrians send back information through intelligence channels," Konashenkov said. "Actually, when the plane lands, it is already known the cargo has been received."

By Thursday at least 200 tonnes of humanitarian aid had been airlifted to Deir-ez-Zor, with several thousand boxes of Russian field chows along with Syria’s flour, sugar, cereal and canned food.

Russia's military operation in Syria

Russia’s aviation grouping has been delivering air strikes against the Islamic State terrorist organization in Syria since September 30 at the request of Syria’s President Bashar Assad.

From November 17, the Russian aviation grouping in Syria switched to delivering massive strikes against militants, including with the involvement of strategic bombers. As the Russian Defense Ministry reported, Russia’s air grouping has focused on destroying terrorist-controlled oil extraction, storage, transportation and refining facilities.

Since 2014, the US-led coalition has also been delivering air strikes against militants in Syria and Iraq. Moscow and Washington earlier signed a memorandum on safe flights over Syria to prevent any air incidents between warplanes of the Russian air group and the US-led coalition but close coordination has not been achieved so far.

Meanwhile, the West accuses Russia of bombing so-called moderate opposition, rather than terrorists’ facilities. Russia’s Defense Ministry rejects the allegations as unfounded.

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