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Sappers defuse 1,230 mines in Palmyra — Russia's Defense Ministry

April 02, 22:53 UTC+3
"Servicemen of the Syrian engineer force keep demining facilities and plots of land near Palmyra," the Russian center for reconciliation of opposing sides in Syria said
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© Valeriy Sharifulin/TASS Archive

MOSCOW, April 2. /TASS/. Servicemen of Syria's engineer force have defused 1,230 landmines and homemade explosive devices in the area of Palmyra, the Russian center for reconciliation of opposing sides in Syria said in a news bulletin posted on the Russian Defense Ministry's website on Saturday.

"Servicemen of the Syrian engineer force keep demining facilities and plots of land near Palmyra," the document says. "In the city liberated from terrorists, the Syrian sappers defused 1,230 mines and homemade explosive devices.".

Ceasefire in Syria

The ceasefire has been rudely violated several times in Syria over the past 24 hours. Thus, certain armed groups, including those that call themselves moderate opposition, attempted to launch an offensive against the governmental forces, the head of the Russian center for reconciliation of warring sides in Syria, Lieutenant General Sergey Kuralenko said on Saturday.

"Thus, a number of armed units, including those that define themselves as moderate opposition have tried to launch an offensive against governmental forces," Kuralenko said.

"After opening fire with homemade multiple rocket launchers from the al-Jandul district, militants of the Ahrar ash-Sham group made an attempt to assault the Sheikh Maqsood district in the city of Aleppo," he said. "After a two-hour battle the attackers backtracked to the earlier occupied positions. A fighter of the Kurdish militias was killed in the attack and two civilians were wounded."

Gunmen of the Ahrar ash-Sham group hurled mortars into the settlement of Handrat from their positions in the settlement of Muhein-Handrat, injuring two civilians.

"Over the past two weeks, we have been noting growing tensions near the city of Aleppo," the general said. "Over this period of time 12 civilians died and 21 more sustained wounds."

In some residential localities in the Aleppo province, the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group (banned in Russia) launched an offensive after the 30-minute-long artillery preparation fire and forced the governmental troops to abandon their positions in the area of Al-As and withdrew in the northeastern direction since they have an order not to respond to provocations.

"The deputy head of the Amman-based U.S. coordination center has been notified about the gunmen’s combat actions and confirmation to this information has been received," Kuralenko said.

"In certain areas to the south and west of Aleppo, Jabhat al-Nusra has taken full control over the groups earlier defined as opposition, as we have repeatedly informed the U.S. side," he said.

"The Russian center for reconciliation of warring sides in the Syrian Arab Republic continues to control round the clock how the ceasefire agreements between governmental and opposition forces are implemented," he said in conclusion.

The ceasefire has been effective in Syria since February 27. It does not apply to the groups Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra (both outlawed in Russia), and also to other groups declared as terrorist by the UN Security Council.

The Russian Defense Ministry declared the establishment of the reconciliation center on February 23. It is headquartered at the Khmeimim air base, Latakia province. The center was set up in line with agreements reached by Russia and the United States to facilitate the negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition and to organize humanitarian deliveries.

More settlements join ceasefire agreement

A number of residential localities that joined the ceasefire in Syria have increased to 56, the Russian center for reconciliation of opposing sides in Syria said.

"A ceasefire agreement has been reached with elders of a village in the Hama province," the document says. "The number of residential localities that joined the ceasefire agreements has increased to 56. Consultations on the cessation of hostilities were held with officials of the Damascus and Deraa provinces."

"Talks are ongoing with field commanders of two armed detachments in the Hama province," it reads. "The number of illegal armed units which vowed to adhere to the cessation of hostilities has remained unchanged - 44."

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