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Russian military complete demining historical sites of Palmyra — defense ministry

April 21, 2016, 19:37 UTC+3

A total of 2,991 explosion-hazardous objects have been found and defused

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© Konstantin Leyfer/TASS

MOSCOW, April 21./TASS/ Russian military have performed in full the task to clear the historical part of Palmyra of mines, the chief of Russia's Corps of Engineers, Lieutenant-General Yuri Stavitsky, has reported to President Vladimir Putin.

The general said 234 hectares of territory, 23 kilometers of roads, 10 heritage sites have been cleared of explosion-hazardous objects. A total of 2,991 explosion-hazardous objects have been found and defused, he said.

Clearing of mines has begun in the residential areas of Palmyra, the general said during a televised linkup with the Kremlin.

"At present the units of the Corps of Engineers have gotten down to mine-clearing in the residential district of Palmyra and at the airport," he said. "We've examine 367 buildings, 40 ha of territory, and 9.5 km of roads. Our soldiers have already defused 1,432 explosive objects," he said, adding that 98 military are used in this operation.

Gen Stavitsky said the mine-clearing effort was proceeding as planned.

"All in all, we'll have to do mine clearing on an urban area of 560 hectares," he said. "Our work is complicated by an abundance of body-trap mines left behind by the militants."

The general said Russian specialists have been engaged in the operation to clear Palmyra of mines from April 2. For that, Russian military-transport planes airlifted a team of field engineers from the international anti-mine center of the Russian Armed Forces.

Stavitsky said dogs and robots were used to speed up work. Summing up the results of work to demine the historic site of Palmyra, Stavitsky said work had been complicated by a high density of planted ammunition and militants’ using powerful radio-controlled devices, many of them planted as antihandling fuses.

The general also said the Russian team was training Syrian specialists. In order to supply the returning residents with water, water supply was organized, he said, also noting that a field hospital was already functioning. Construction of a town for UNESCO restauration teams was completed, the military said.

Russia also assists to engineer units of the Syrian armed forces in demining the city of al-Qaryatain." Facilities of infrastructure are being restored in the town, and 98 families have returned to their homes," Stavitsky said.

In the televised linkup, President Vladimir Putin thanked the Russian military working to clear Palmyra of mines. "Convey thanks to the personnel - officers, soldiers, supporting services. Thank you very much. I wish you success," the Russian president said.

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