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Syrian Foreign Ministry: Merkel’s proposal on no-fly zone aims to protect terrorists

February 18, 2016, 19:55 UTC+3 ABU DHABI

Such statements "coincide with the demands of the Turkish authorities, which are aimed at protection of terrorist groups and feed crimes of extremists against the Syrian people," the ministry says

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© Vadim Savitsky/Russian Defense Ministry's press service/TASS, Archive

ABU DHABI, February 18. /TASS/. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s proposal to establish a no-fly zone in the north of Syria is unacceptable and is aimed to support terrorists, a spokesman for the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday.

"Syria does not accept the proposal by the German chancellor [on possible establishment of a no-fly zone in the country’s north], which is interference in Syria’s domestic affairs, violation of its sovereignty, the principle of inviolability of borders and totally contradicts international law and the UN Charter," the statement said.

The ministry said that such statements by Merkel "coincide with the demands of the Turkish authorities, which are aimed at protection of terrorist groups and feed crimes of extremists against the Syrian people."

Such statements, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said, "protract the resolution of the [intra-Syrian] conflict and do not in any way contribute to the search for ways out of the crisis."

Merkel voiced her proposal to establish a no-fly zone along the Syrian-Turkish border on Wednesday. In her view, airstrikes of Russia and the Bashar Assad troops "are out of line with the spirit of the resolution adopted by the United Nations in December and thus efforts to reduce the level of violence."

Merkel said it would be a good sign "if a deal between Assad and his allies and the anti-IS coalition is reached" that would ensure establishment of "something like a no-fly zone where there would be no bombings and civilians would not come under pressure and murders" on the territory between Aleppo and the Turkish border.

According to UN statistics, fighting between Syrian government troops and militants has killed over 220,000 people and displaced millions since its start in 2011. Gangs of militants making part of various armed formations, the most active of them being the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations, fight government troops.

Russian military operation in Syria

Russia’s Aerospace Forces started delivering pinpoint strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations, which are banned in Russia, on September 30, 2015, on a request from Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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 deployed to the Khmeimim airbase in the province of Latakia.

On October 7, 2015, four missile ships of the Russian Navy’s Caspian Flotilla fired 26 Kalibr cruise missiles (NATO codename Sizzler) at militants’ facilities in Syria. On October 8, the Syrian army passed to a large-scale offensive.

In mid-November 2015, Russia increased the number of aircraft taking part in the operation in Syria to 69 and involved strategic bombers in strikes at militants.

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.

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