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Palestinian politician: Russian Aerospace Forces’ operation in Syria improved situation

February 19, 2016, 17:53 UTC+3

Russian forces went to Syria to change the balance of forces there, for Syria to have a chance for serious political settlement, opportunities to hold talks, a Palestinian polititian says

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© Valeriy Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, February 19. /TASS/. The Russian Aerospace Forces’ operation in Syria has changed the situation in the Middle East for the better, Secretary-General of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) Nayef Hawatmeh said Friday.

"The Russian troops came there under the motto ‘it’s time to end the war in Syria’," Hawatmeh said. He said that during Friday’s talks with representatives of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Palestinian delegation thanked Russian colleagues for sending troops to Syria. "The situation there has improved," the official told journalists.

"They went there to change the balance of forces in Syria, [for Syria] to have a chance for serious political settlement, opportunities to hold talks," Hawatmeh said.

He recalled that such talks recently kicked off in Geneva. "They should be not like their first and second rounds," the politician said. "They should lead to results."

Intra-Syrian talks on conflict settlement kicked off in Geneva early in February 2016, but were suspended in a few days. The talks are expected to resume February 25.

The previous peace conferences, dubbed Geneva-1 and Geneva-2, were held in Switzerland in 2012 and 2014.

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.

Russia's 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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