Statement of the Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoy
On February 25, the Russian Defence Ministry sent a draft proposal on ceasefire observe and control in Syria through military-diplomatic channels to the US representatives following provisions of the Joint Russian-American agreement on ceasefire in Syria.
The document contains consultation process between the Russian Federation and the United States of America in case of receiving information about ceasefire violations and usage of military force against formations, which violate ceasefire obligations systematically. The Russian Defence Ministry considers that such procedures are to form an effective mechanism for controlling and suppressing potential ceasefire violators in Syria.
Having received viewpoint of the US representatives, the Russian side developed a compromise draft agreement and sent it on March 5. Moreover, the Russian party suggested holding consultations as soon as possible in order to let experts approve the text of the agreement.
However, the Russian-American consultations, which had been held in Amman on March 18, showed that the American party was not ready for particular discussion and approving of the agreement text.
It is unacceptable to drag out agreed rules of reaction on ceasefire violation in Syria. Syrian people are dying every day in course of provocations and shelling attacks.
The Russian party states about its readiness for finishing the work over the document as well as receiving the American delegation in Moscow or holding session in any acceptable place for both sides.
Starting from March 22, the Russian Federation will follow unilateral rules of the Agreement in case of the US reaction is absent.
It is to be stressed that the military force will be used after receiving evidence of systematic violations of obligations taken by armed formations within implementation of the Joint Russian-American Agreement on ceasefire in Syria (February 22, 2016).
Military force will not be used against formations, which follow the ceasefire regime, as well as peaceful population and civilian facilities.
Report of the Russian Centre for reconciliation of opposing sides in the Syrian Arab Republic (March 21, 2016)
General information on the application of measures for the reconciliation of opposing sides
In the course of last 3 days, 17 joint sessions with representatives of the Russian Centre, ceasefire committees, leaders of 6 political parties and movements have been held in order to expand safety zone in the provinces of Homs, Hama, and Aleppo.
Preliminary truce agreements have been achieved with representatives of 4 towns of the Daraa and Damascus provinces.
The total number of settlements, the leaders of which have signed reconciliation agreements, has remained 51.
Negotiations with field commanders of 2 armed formations active in the Damascus province are continued. Issues concerning joining ceasefire regime have been discussed.
The number of ceasefire application forms signed with leaders of armed groupings has remained 43.
Results of ceasefire monitoring
In the course of last 24 hours, 6 ceasefire violations have been registered (Latakia – 3, Hama – 2, Aleppo – 1).
Unidentified armed formations active near Qabtan al-Jabel opened fire with multiple launch rocket systems against positions of the Kurdish militia detachments in Bashimr district (Aleppo).
In the Hama province, Ithriya has suffered an artillery shelling
In the Latakia province, fire with mortars and recoilless guns was held against Shmaisa village from Shamruran, which has been controlled by the Free Syrian Army. Ahrar al-Sham militants carried out shelling of the government troops near Kermel from Tuffakhia.
Russian Aerospace Forces and Syrian Air Forces did not make strikes on armed formations, which follow ceasefire regime and informed the Russian or American Centres for reconciliation about their location.
Humanitarian aid to the population of Syria
The Russian Centre for reconciliation of opposing sides has received appeals from administration and elders of 3 towns (Damascus and Hama provinces), which had joined the ceasefire regime, for humanitarian aid. Specialists of the Centre started forming humanitarian convoys.
Recovering of damaged infrastructure in inhabited areas of the Damascus province is continued. Electrical energy supply system and telephone communication network have been restored in Adra.
Consultations with the Syrian Ministers on delivering medicaments by the UN to the blocked regions of the country are being held.
Leadership of the Russian Centre for reconciliation (Hmeymim airbase) and the American Coordination Centre (Amman) held teleconference session. The sides discussed issues concerning granting access to humanitarian cargos in towns of the Damascus province, and ceasefire violations in the provinces of Aleppo, Latakia, Damascus, and Hama.
Combat actions held by Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS formations have been intensified. Near Aleppo, 8 fire fights and shellings, which these terrorist groupings had taken part in, have been registered.
Thus, near Khan Tuman (south-western suburbs of Aleppo), Jabhat al-Nusra armed groups attacked units of the government troops. Moreover, Kafr Sagir village (north-eastern Aleppo) has suffered shelling with usage of mortars and large-caliber machine guns.
Moscow Does Not Rule Out Unilateral Measures Against Groups Violating the Ceasefire
“We do not rule out in this context that we will have to resort to the unilateral termination of actions of the gunmen who fail to honor the ceasefire.” – Russian Foreign Ministry
MOSCOW, March 21. /TASS/. Moscow believes that procrastinating indefinitely the drafting of the common stance on the ceasefire in Syria is “dangerous and counterproductive” and does not rule out stopping such actions unilaterally, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.
“Moscow points with satisfaction to the continued cooperation with the US on all issues of ensuring the cessation of hostilities in Syria,” the statement said. “For that end, Russia and the US as co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) have a number of communication channels, including military-to-military contacts. Today one can say that the ceasefire regime in Syria imposed on February 27 is largely observed.”
The ministry pointed to the decrease in the level of violence, the growing number of the armed opposition groups “that have renounced hostilities and chose the path of reconciliation.” On the other hand, careful monitoring data indicates the presence of a host of militant units, which “evade from complying with the ceasefire, violate it and not only disassociate themselves but, on the contrary, cooperate with Jabhat al-Nusra [outlawed in Russia — TASS] placed on the list of terrorist groups by the UN Security Council.”
“From the very beginning, Moscow has been aware of these and other difficulties in implementing the joint Russian-US agreements,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “To that end, we offered our American partners to create the appropriate joint mechanism, which would provide for exchanging information and registering ceasefire violations with the subsequent punishment of those responsible for such violations.”
“We have been in contact with the Americans for quite a while,” the ministry said. “However, so far, these contacts have not taken us close enough to procedures of identifying and stopping all ceasefire violations coordinated by Russia and the U.S. as ISSG co-chairs. We are convinced that thereby a wrong signal is sent to the opposition members who did not join the ceasefire and not dissociate themselves from well-known terrorist groups properly.”
“We are still interested in devising the procedure of our response to ceasefire violations coordinated with the US and other members of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) on the basis of the decisions taken at the ISSG plenary meeting in Munich,” the ministry said. “However, we believe that procrastinating indefinitely the drafting of such common stance is dangerous and counterproductive. We do not rule out in this context that we will have to resort to the unilateral termination of actions of the gunmen who fail to honor the ceasefire.”
Russia Ready to Use Military Force Against Violators of Syria Ceasefire Starting March 22
MOSCOW, March 21. /TASS/. Russia is ready to unilaterally use military force starting March 22 against the armed groups, systematically violating Syria’s ceasefire, if it gets no US response to its proposals on controlling the ceasefire regime, head of the Main Operations Directorate of the Russian General Staff Sergei Rudskoi said on Monday.
He said that Russia had sent the corresponding proposals on February 25.
“If the Russian Federation gets no response from the United States to these proposals, it will proceed starting March 22 to unilateral application of the rules specified in the Agreement,” Rudskoi said.
“We emphasize that military force will be used only after we receive credible evidence of systematic violations by armed groups of the commitments made within the framework of the Joint US-Russian statement on the cessation of hostilities in Syria as of February 22, 2016. Military force will not be used against the groups, observing the ceasefire regime, as well as against the civilian population and civilian facilities”, he added.
A ceasefire regime brokered by Russia and the United States on February 22 officially came into effect in Syria at midnight Damascus time on February 27. This does not cover terrorist groups such as Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, both outlawed in Russia, and other groups recognized as terrorist by the United Nations Security Council. An hour before the ceasefire came into force, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution in support cessation of hostilities in Syria. The document was initiated by Russia and the United States and won support from all the 15 members of the United Nations Security Council.
On Saturday, head of the Russian reconciliation center in Syria Sergey Kuralenko said that 67 civilians were killed and 65 wounded by militants’ fire in Syria’s Aleppo province alone since February 27. On Friday, March 18, the Russian General Staff said that the ceasefire regime in Syria has been violated nearly 250 times since the truce agreement took effect.
President al-Assad and Mrs. al-Assad meet injured army personnel and their mothers
21 March، 2016
President Bashar al-Assad and Mrs. Asma al-Assad received on Monday a number of injured Syrian Arab Army personnel and the mothers of a group of them on the occasion of Mother’s Day.
The meeting coincides with the first anniversary of launching the “Homeland’s Wounded” program for supporting injured people, preserving their rights, and reintegrating them into society.
During the meeting, President al-Assad said “We are very glad that you came and that we can greet you one by one, whether as heroes, mothers, wives, fiancés, or sisters. Everyone gave us a lot of strength which we obtain from heroes and from your morale and steadfastness.”
“At the same time, we appreciate and know how difficult it was for you to come from distant places, whether on the level of personal suffering, or on the level of the security situation,” he added.
President al-Assad said that Mother’s Day is a family holiday in which small families honor mothers, but after the events in Syria and the terrorist war waged on it during the past five years, many concepts have changed and holidays are celebrated differently, in the sense that they became holidays for heroism, bravery, redemption, and sacrifice.
His Excellency said that heroism is essentially linked to the environment in which people live and to their homeland, society, and family, asserting that the Syrian mothers who raised their children to love their homeland and taught them the meaning of sacrifice are the real source of heroism.
“It is the fate of martyrs’ families to speak of heroics to coming generations, as it is the fate of the injured to tell the tales of heroics themselves, because they are living examples in society that serve as a role model for coming generations,” President al-Assad said.
“We follow your example and learn from you patriotism, sacrifice, redemption, and national values in all their meanings, and this caring for those who made sacrifices – whether they were fighters or were supporting the fighters – is not only a duty or a human condition at all; rather it is a case of caring for the homeland,” the President stressed, adding that it’s not possible to love the homeland and not love those who defend it.
“We know the circumstances of most of you, before or after being injured or martyrdom, and the financial circumstances of some families were difficult, yet they rose to defend the homeland,” he added, noting that many Syrians weren’t able to bear arms to defend their homeland for one reason or another, but they contributed with the state via donations and projects for the families of martyrs and injured people, with these projects growing in a direction related to employment which is continuing within available resources.
“We didn’t stop there; we moved towards productive projects and grants, and this idea is evolving and expanding to improve the conditions of the families of martyrs and injured people and preserve their dignity so that they wouldn’t need anyone,” His Excellency explained, pointing out that the health aspect focuses now on rehabilitating the injured so that they can return to being active members of their families and society, with work being carried out to provide them with prosthetics so that they can lead their lives without needing anyone’s help.
President al-Assad noted that helping the injured isn’t an act of returning a favor, because when someone loses their lives you can’t compensate their family for that in a material ay, and the same goes for when someone loses a limb or when their health is affected, “because what they gave is priceless, and no matter what we give to them it remains less than modest compared to what they gave.”
“The one and only thing that compares to the sacrifices you made, be it by sacrificing your life, health, or body, is the safety of the homeland, and when the homeland is safe once again, I believe that every one of the injured would say ‘I feel my hand is back, my leg is back, my eye, my health, and that applies to the family of every martyrs who will feel when the security is restored to the homeland that their son’s blood is what restored security to the homeland, and that their son is back again,” the President said.
The President concluded by saying “As long as there are mothers like you who raise heroes, Syria will be fine.”
The “Homeland’s Wounded” program, launched one year ago, provided prosthetics and productive projects for the injured, with the aim of employing all available resources to alleviate the suffering of the injured and treat them.
In 2015, the program helped 435 injured people with full disability, in addition to carrying out 285 productive projects for them that provide revenue and allow them to achieve self-dependence.
Haifa Said / Hazem Sabbagh
More ISIS equipment destroyed in army operations
21 March، 2016
The army units continued on Monday their military operations agaisnt ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist organizations across the country, destroying their weaponry and killing many of their members.
An army unit, in cooperation with the popular defense groups, targeted a gathering of ISIS terrorists in Tal Asheihib in the northeastern countryside of Sweida province, according to a military source.
A mortar launcher and a bulldozer were destroyed and the terrorists operating them were killed, the source told SANA.
Units of the army continued successful combat tasks into the direction of Mahin-al-Qaryateen and established control on point 875 near al-Tloul al-Sud and points 908,8, 901, 893,6 on the direction of al-Rmeili mountain and points 856 and 866 near Wadi al-Taba in Homs countryside.
Earlier, the army’s air force destroyed ISIS terrorists’ dens and vehicles, some of which equipped with machineguns and carrying ammunition, in the vicinity of Palmyra and al-Qaryatain in the countryside of the central Homs province.