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Russian aircraft deliver almost 6,000 strikes on gunmen in Syria in 2 months

The Syrian military forces have doubled the area under their control over the past two months

MOSCOW, July 24./TASS/. Russian combat planes have made more than 2,000 sorties in Syria within the period of two months, delivering almost 6,000 airstrikes on terrorists, the chief of the Main Operations Directorate of Russia’s General Staff, Sergey Rudskoy, told reporters on Monday.

"For these purposes, planes of the Russian Aerospace Forces have carried out 2,010 sorties, delivering 5,850 air strikes on control points, weapons and ammunition depots, transshipment bases and camps for training gunmen," he said.

He also said that representatives of the Russian Defense Ministry and Syria’s opposition have agreed parameters of the de-escalation zone in Eastern Ghouta, two checkpoints and four observation points have already been deployed there.

"Being committed to the soonest establishment of peace in Syria and cessation of hostilities on the principles and criteria of the Astana format, representatives of the Russian Defense Ministry held talks in Cairo with representatives of the Syrian moderate opposition which yielded agreements on the procedures of functioning of the de-escalation zone in Eastern Ghouta," he said, adding that under these agreements, the Russian military police has deployed two checkpoints and four observation posts in that area earlier in the day.

"Thus, thanks to the measures taken by Russia hostilities have been stopped in Syria’s two major areas," Rudskoi stressed.

According to earlier reports, Russian, Iranian and Turkish delegations to the talks in Astana reached an agreement on the establishment of four de-escalation zones in Syria. These zones encompass the province of Idlib and some areas in the neighboring provinces of Aleppo, Latakia and Hama, an areas north of Homs, Eastern Ghouta and the southern provinces of Daraa and al-Quneitra. Under the agreement, all military activities, including flights of warplanes, are to be stopped in these territories from May 6. Signed for a period on six months, the document may be automatically extended for the same period.

Russia’s military police has deployed two checkpoints and 10 observation posts along the perimeter of the de-escalation zone in south Syria, Rudskoi.

"In order to ensure the ceasefire, the military police of the Russian Federation deployed on July 21 and 22 two checkpoints and 10 observation posts along the agreed sections of the parties’ engagement line in the south-western de-escalation zone," Rudskoi said.

Russia has notified its counterparts from the United States, Jordan and Israel through military and diplomatic channels of the deployment of Russian control forces along the perimeter of the de-escalation zone in the south of Syria, the general said.

The nearest post is located at a distance of 13 kilometers from the zone of the disengagement of the Israeli and Syrian forces in the area of the Golan Heights that was earlier agreed and sealed by international treaties, the Russian general said.

"These measures will help maintain the ceasefire, contribute to the uninterrupted delivery of humanitarian cargoes and the return of refugees and temporarily displaced persons," the general said.

Rudskoi noted that restoration of control over a section of the Syrian-Iraqi border has helped to reduce redeployment of gunmen and armaments from Iraq to Syria.

"As of today, control has been restored over a 150-kilometer section of the Syrian-Iraqi border. Four frontier outposts and 22 posts have been deployed. This has made it possible to sizably reduce possibilities of the terrorist group IS (outlawed in Russia) to redeploy militants and arms from Iraq to Syria," he said.

Besides, the government troops have assumed control over the Syrian-Jordanian border in the provinces of As-Suwayda and Damascus, 211 kilometers all in all, Rudskoy said.

"Twelve frontier outposts have been deployed. A total of 6,500 square kilometers of territory east of Zelaf have been cleared of militants," he said.

According to the general, Russia’s aerospace forces will continue their operation in Syria until that country is liberated from terrorists.

"The operation to liberate Syria from terrorist groups Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra (both outlawed in Russia) will be continued," he said, adding that any attempts taken by terrorists and their accomplices to reverse the reconciliation process will be squashed.

Siryan army doubles the area under their control

The establishment of de-escalation zones in Syria has helped the government forces to release forces for fight against terrorists, Rudskoy said. "The declaration of ceasefire and the establishment of de-escalation zones in Syria have helped the government forces to achieve considerable success in the fight against terror groups," he said.

The Syrian military forces have doubled the area under their control over the past two months liberating the country’s territories from militants, according to the general.

"Some 20,000 square kilometers (almost 5,000 acres) of land were liberated from terrorists over the past two months and this figure amounts to 40% of all of the liberated territory," Rudskoi said.

According to the high-ranking Russian military official, the Syrian government troops had under their control an area of over 19,000 square kilometers (almost 4,700 acres) in September 2015, when the Russian Armed Forces launched its counter-terror operation in Syria.

As of today, according to Rudskoi, this figure quadrupled embracing a total area of liberated territories to the extent of some 74,200 square kilometers (over 18,330 acres) under control of the Syrian army.

Syrian government troops have eliminated over 2,000 terrorists in the northeast of the Aleppo province while liberating 55 communities on that territory, Rudskoi said.

"An offensive on the positions of terrorists of the ISIL [the former name of the Islamic State terrorist grouping outlawed in Russia] continues in the northeast of the province of Aleppo. Since June 1, the Syrian army has liberated 55 communities from terrorists in that area, including the towns of Bir-Nbadj, Rasafe and Dalha," the Russian general said.

Some 2,400 square kilometers of the territory have been liberated from terrorists, the general added.

"The government troops have destroyed over 2,000 militants, about 20 tanks and infantry fighting vehicles and over 40 pickups with large-caliber machineguns and antiaircraft systems," the general said.

Rudskoi added that Syria’s government army has regained control over three oil and gas fields and a gas hub near Palmyra.

"Government troops staged an offensive in the northwestern, eastern and southeastern directions near Palmyra. Terrorists have been shelled out of the strategically important settlement of Arak. The Syrian army has taken full control of the oil and gas fields Shaer, Magara and Arak, and the T-3 big gas distribution plant," he said.

According to him, an operation is underway northwest of the Syrian city of Palmyra to destroy a large grouping of the Islamic State.

"An operation is ongoing northwest of Palmyra to block and eliminate a large grouping of the ISIL [the former name of the Islamic State] near the town of Aqerbat," the general said.

An offensive is developing successfully in south Syria, Rudskoi said.

The total area regained by the Syrian government forces in this direction equals 7,000 square kilometers, the Russian general said.

"ISIL militants have been pushed back from the town of al-Buda while the government troops have gained control of the T-2 gas distribution center and are developing their offensive towards the town of Abu Kamal, with 26 kilometers remaining," the general said.

Decline in ceasefire violations

The General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces notes a stable decline in ceasefire violations across Syria.

"With the implementation of political agreements, a stable decline in the number of violations of the cessation of hostilities across Syria is fixed. According to our data, their number has dropped 1.5 times in the first three weeks of July as compared with the same period of the previous month," Rudskoy said.

According to him, this has enabled the Russian center for reconciliation of the conflicting sides to bolster activity towards a return to peaceful life in Syria.

On Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry said Russia has reported five ceasefire violations in Syria over the past 24 hours, while Turkey has fixed none.

Representatives of more than 500 communities in Syria have signed the ceasefire agreement since the beginning of June, Rudskoy told reporters.

"Since the start of June, the agreement to cease fire has been signed by representatives of 508 communities. Thus, the total number of communities that joined the ceasefire has reached 2,043. The number of armed opposition’s units that joined the ceasefire has grown to 228," Rudskoy said.

As he put it, the officers of the Russian Reconciliation Center for the Conflicting Sides in Syria have conducted 190 humanitarian runs, having delivered 159 tonnes of supplies, and medics of the Russian Defense Ministry’s hospital have provided medical aid to over 10,000 civilians since early June.

Besides, the Russian transport planes delivered 475 tonnes of supplies from the UN to the residents of Deir ez-Zor, which is surrounded by militants, Rudskoy added.