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General Staff reports on Russia's air group success in Syria since start of campaign

The Russian air task force destroyed at least 174 oil refineries and 111 oil tank convoys

MOSCOW, January 10. /TASS/. Russian warplanes have conducted 19,160 sorties since the start of the Syria operation, destroying 174 militants’ makeshift oil refineries and depriving them of the basic source of revenues, Chief of Russia’s General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov said on Tuesday.

"Since the start of the operation, our aviation has performed 19,160 sorties and delivered over 71,000 strikes against terrorists’ infrastructure. Our aviation targeted militants’ training camps, ammunitions factories and workshops, and also illegal oil extraction facilities of terrorists of the ISIL [the former name of the Islamic State terrorist organization outlawed in Russia], the chief of Russia’s General Staff said at a conference call in the Defense Ministry.

According to the general, the Russian air task force "destroyed more than 200 such objectives, 174 oil refineries and 111 oil tank convoys."

In the estimate of the chief of Russia’s General Staff, "this helped both disrupt the system of ISIL illegal armed formations’ supply and deprive them of their basic source of revenues."

With the support of Russia’s air task force, the Syrian government troops have liberated 12,360 square kilometers of Syria’s territory and 499 communities since the start of its operation, the chief of the General Staff said.

"The actions by our air task force started on September 30, 2015 have reversed the course of the struggle against terrorism in the Syrian Arab Republic," he noted.

"Over this period, large illegal armed formations were routed near Hama and Homs. The province of Latakia has been freed from militants, the liberation of Damascus suburbs is nearing completion and the basic transport artery linking the capital with the country’s north has been unblocked. The cities of Aleppo and Al-Karyatein that are of key significance have been liberated," Gerasimov said.

Russian combat aircraft deliver strikes only after the confirmation of data from several sources, including the data from space-based reconnaissance and unmanned aerial vehicles, the chief of Russia’s General Staff said.

US-led coalition fails to tackle Islamic State 

The US-led coalition has failed to achieve significant success during its two-year campaign against the Islamic State. According to Gerasimov, the US-led coalition delivered far less airstrikes on militant targets than Russia’s Aerospace Force.

Gerasimov said that the US-led coalition had carried out around 6,500 airstrikes on terrorist facilities while Russian war planes had conducted over 19,000 combat flights delivering more than 71,000 airstrikes during the operation launched on September 30, 2015.

“They [the US-led coalition] have not achieved any significant success… At the same time, a large number of civilian deaths as well as Syrian government troops deaths has been recorded,” Gerasimov noted. 

He pointed to the Deir-ez-Zor attack that occurred on September 17, 2016, when the US war planes attacked Syrian government troops prompting the IS members to launch an offensive.

“The latest in a sequence of such attacks took place on January 3 when a B-52 bomber targeted the town of Sarmada in the Idlib province without previously notifying Russia, although the ceasefire agreement applies to this area. This attack killed over 20 civilians,” Russia’s Chief of General Staff said.