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Russian combat engineers demine over 10,000 buildings in Syria’s Palmyra

KUBINKA (Moscow Region), October 5. /TASS/. Russian combat engineers have demined over 10,000 buildings in Syria’s Palmyra, and also 219 km of roads, Commander of the Palmyra mine clearance group Valery Ovdiyenko said on Thursday.

"In 2016 and 2017, the detachment of the Russian Armed Forces’ Mine Action Center performed twice the task of removing explosives and carrying out mine clearance in the architectural and historical complex, the residential quarters and the airport of Palmyra," the commander said.

"During the work, the combat engineers checked and cleared 2,339 hectares of the territory, 219 kilometers of roads and 10,476 buildings and structures of mines and destroyed 24,065 explosive objects," Ovdiyenko said.

During the mine-clearance operation within the city bounds and the territory adjacent to Palmyra, Russian combat engineers defused a large number of improvised engineering munitions, explosives, mines and rockets, the commander noted.

"Their production was organized in workshops with the use of turning lathes and electro-mechanical equipment at the production capacities of enterprises seized by terrorists. The works were carried out under the control of explosives specialists trained at terrorists’ training camps," he said.

Terrorists are using various types of improvised grenades for combat operations in urban conditions, the commander said.

"They are furnished with the C-4 plastic explosives placed in specially prepared casings. In order to carry out terrorist acts, the large-scale production of large roadside bongs in metal casings has been organized, using ammonia nitrate and kerosene as explosives," the commander said.

"The territory near Palmyra is a desert, frequently with quite hard soil. The planting of improvised explosives on the ground and along hard-surface roads is associated with the risk of their quick discovery. That is why, the terrorists have switched over to making camouflaged casings and also using household items, even children’s toys, inside which improvised explosives are placed," Ovdiyenko said.

It was extremely important during the mine clearance operation in Palmyra to "prevent causing additional damage to historical sites," the commander said.

"That is why, explosives were not destroyed on this territory. Advanced robotic systems were used to search for and reconnoiter the terrain. The discovered dangerous objects, including improvised devices and specially installed ‘irretrievable’ items were neutralized on the site and delivered to a safe distance for their further destruction," the detachment’s commander said.