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Two field commanders killed in Aleppo province in Russian airstrikes — defense ministry

February 11, 2016, 10:22 UTC+3

The ministry spokesman stressed that Russian aircraft did not bomb facilities in Aleppo on Wednesday, thus refuting Pentagon’s statements on airstrikes against two hospitals

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© SANA via AP

MOSCOW, February 11./TASS/. Airstrikes by Russian warplanes have destroyed two influential terrorist field commanders in Syria’s Aleppo Governorate, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov has said.

"Terrorists are suffering major losses in airstrikes by warplanes of the Russian Aerospace Forces. Two influential field commanders have been destroyed in the Aleppo Governorate," the spokesman said.

He also said a big group of gunmen together with their commander Abu Mager was destroyed near the settlement of Kalaz-Tahtani. Another terrorist leader was also destroyed in the same province, Konashenkov said.

US hits targets in Aleppo, accuses Russia of bombing hospitals

The spokesman stressed that Russian aircraft did not bomb facilities in Aleppo on Wednesday, thus refuting Pentagon’s statements on airstrikes against two hospitals.

The Pentagon's official spokesman Steve Warren claimed on Wednesday that Russia’s planes bombed two hospitals in Aleppo and as the result "over 50,000 Syrians are now without any access to live-saving assistance."

"We carefully analyzed all the data on the targets that were hit yesterday in the Aleppo province," Konashenkov said. "Russian aircraft were not working in the area of Aleppo yesterday. The closest target was more than 20 kilometers from the city," he said.

Konashenkov said only the aircraft of the so-called anti-IS coalition flew "actively" over the city on Wednesday.

In comments to Warren’s statement, Konashenkov said the spokesman gave "neither the time, nor the coordinates of these hospitals nor the sources of this information." "Simply nothing," he stressed.

"When London’s human rights activists talk this nonsense that's one thing," he said, but when the Pentagon’s spokesman says this "is a completely another situation," he added.

According to the military official, the US planes destroyed some targets in Aleppo.

"Yesterday at 1:55pm Moscow time, two US A-10 jets entered the Syrian airspace from the Turkish territory, directly flew right to Aleppo and completely destroyed targets in the city," Konashenkov said.

"We did not have enough time to establish the purpose of those targets that were bombed in Aleppo yesterday… We will look more carefully," he added.

He added that accusations against Russia of bombing Aleppo remind of cases when US aviation destroyed a hospital in Afghanistan’s Kunduz or positions of the Iraqi army in Fallujah. "The first thing they do is make groundless accusations against us to divert suspicion from themselves. If it goes on like this, we will soon have to hold two briefings - one for ourselves and another for those guys from the coalition that consider themselves to be professionals," he noted.

The Syrian army, supported by Russia, is conducting an operation against militants in the province of Aleppo.

Reports said the Syrian forces were attacking positions of armed groups on the approaches to the village of Tell Rifaat - the last militants’ stronghold to the north of Aleppo (360 kilometers from capital Damscus).

Al Manar TV channel reported on Tuesday that Syrian forces opened artillery fire at the district of Kfar Naya located three kilometers away from Tell Rifaat. The offensive in that part of the front was unfolding simultaneously with heavy fighting for the neighboring town of Retyan.

According to Al Manar, Syrian forces would get access to the border town of Azaz, where rear bases of the enemy are stationed if they defeated the armed coalition of Islamists Jabhat al-Sham supported by Turkey. A representative of this coalition Heisam Hammo admitted that "rebels may lose their foothold in the north of Syria" adding that "this threat has become a reality."

Syrian government forces regained control over the village of Kfin (five kilometers from Tell Rifaat) on Monday. With support from militias, government forces forced Jebhat al-Nusra terrorists out from the settlement.

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