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2nd group of Russian specialists heads to Syria to take part in Palmyra mine clearing

March 31, 20:41 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Military transport aviation aircraft will also deliver Uran-6 mine-clearing robotic systems
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© Valery Sharifulin/TASS Archive

MOSCOW, March 31. /TASS/. The second group of specialists from the interservice team of the Russian Armed Forces’ International Anti-mine Center has left the Moscow Region for the Khmeimim airbase in Syria to take part in the humanitarian effort to clear infrastructure facilities and the historical part of the ancient city of Palmyra of mines, the Russian Defense Ministry said Thursday.

"Military transport aviation aircraft will also deliver to the airfield in the Syrian Arab Republic Uran-6 mine-clearing robotic systems and armored personnel carriers equipped with suppressors of proximity fuzes and radio-controlled explosive devices," the ministry said.

The day before, Russia brought antimine specialists, special personnel modules and mine clearing sets to Khmeimim.

"Earlier, in line with the decision of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, the Russian defense minister gave instructions to redeploy specialists of the International Anti-mine Center of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to Syria to participate in humanitarian mine clearing of the ancient city of Palmyra, liberated from ISIL terrorists by the Syrian army," the statement said.

Palmyra, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list, was recaptured by the Syrian Armed Forces March 27. The city had been controlled by militants of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group since May 2015. For less than a year of their Palmyra control, IS vandals destroyed the famous Arch of Triumph with the colonnade and other ancient monuments.

Russian General Staff Main Operations Directorate chief Lt. Gen. Sergey Rudskoy said Thursday the operation to liberate Palmyra was planned with participation of Russian military advisers.

Rudskoy said Russia’s Aerospace Forces made over 2,000 strikes to support the Syrian troops. Besides, Russian special operations forces were involved in the effort to recapture the ancient city.

On Thursday morning, Russia’s Defense Ministry reported that the first group of International Anti-mine Center specialists arrived in Syria.

The ceasefire regime took effect in Syria on February 27. Shortly before, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution supporting a cessation of hostilities. The document drafted by Russia and the United States was backed by all 15 Security Council member states.

The ceasefire regime does not cover the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations as well as other groups ruled terrorist by the Security Council.

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.

On March 14, 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered to start, from March 15, withdrawing the main part of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ group from Syria. Putin said the tasks set before the military "have been fulfilled on the whole." Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov said strikes on terrorists will continue to be delivered.

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