MOSCOW, February 7. /TASS/. Terrorists from Jabhat al-Nusra (outlawed in Russia) have become a tool in the hands of one or more countries displeased with Moscow’s role in the liberation of Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Jabhat al-Nusra units, affiliated with Al-Qaeda (outlawed in Russia) remain the main source of instability in Syria, particularly in the Idlib area," the statement reads. "Members of this terror group, who have been receiving weapons and financial support, seek to disrupt the peace process in de-escalation zones, driving out the moderate opposition’s units," the Russian Defense Ministry added.
According to the statement, all this confirms the concerns that terrorists from the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda have become a servile tool in the hands of one or more technologically developed countries that are dissatisfied with Russia’s leading role in the liberation of Syria from the Islamic State terror group (outlawed in Russia).
Russia’s aerospace group monitors the Idlib de-escalation zone in Syria where Turkey has not deployed its observation posts yet, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
"Russian aircraft regularly monitor the de-escalation zone of Idlib, where Turkey has not yet deployed its observation posts under the assumed commitments," Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov stated.
He recalled that after the Syrian army with the assistance of Russia’s aerospace group had regained control of the country’s territory from the Islamic State, the bulk of Russia’s contingent returned home.
"Currently, the main tasks of the Russian forces in Syria are the monitoring of the ceasefire in the de-escalation zones and assisting the Syrian people in returning to a peaceful existence," Konashenkov said.
He added that in the de-escalation zone, Russian military police units were monitoring and enforcing the cessation of hostilities.
According to earlier reports, a Russian Sukhoi-25 jet was shot down by a man-portable missile over the de-escalation zone of Idlib while conducting a ceasefire monitoring mission. Its pilot, Major Roman Filipov, ejected himself only to be surrounded by terrorists on the ground. After a shootout with the attackers on the ground, Filipov blew up himself with a hand grenade. On February 6, he was awarded the title of the Hero of Russia posthumously.
Four de-escalation zones have functioned in Syria since the middle of last September - Eastern Ghouta (a suburb of Damascus), in the south of the country, near Homs and also in the Idlib Governorate and some parts of the neighboring provinces of Aleppo, Latakia and Hama.