Russian Ministry of Defense Media Briefing on the Situation in Syria

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The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation continue to assist the peace process in the Syrian Arab Republic.

The implementation of the Russian-Turkish agreement of September 17, 2018 on the creation of a demilitarized zone in the Idlib de-escalation zone is important for the further normalization of the situation in Syria.

We see Turkey’s efforts to fulfil the agreements on Idlib. The number of violations of the ceasefire regime has decreased four times, from 773 in September, to 197 in October.

More than 2450 militants and 206 pieces of various military equipment, including 31 tanks, 22 large-calibre field artillery, 23 mortars and other weapons have left the demilitarized zone.

Civilians who wish to leave the Idlib de-escalation zone go through the humanitarian corridor provided by the Syrian government near Abu al-Duhur. Under the control of representatives from Russia, Turkey and Iran, members of the Joint Coordination Center, since March 4, 2018, more than 36,000 people and 4,312 pieces of civilian equipment were withdrawn to the eastern part of Idlib province . 4,365 civilians, including 2,013 children were provided with medical care in the medical centre deployed by the Russian Centre for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides.

At the same time, we note that Ankara has not succeeded in completing the fulfillment of its obligations, although, I repeat, Turkey is making significant efforts for this.

I want to emphasize that the sequence of steps to implement the conditions of the memorandum and to prevent its breakdown are important for us.

Monitoring of the situation along the borders of the demilitarized zone is currently carried out by 10 Russian, 12 Turkish and 7 Iranian observation posts.

Despite the general normalization of the situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone, the militants of the remaining terrorist groups do not abandon their attempts to destabilize it.

We have repeatedly informed the public about the attempts of radical militants and the White Helmets organization, to organize provocations using toxic substances to accuse government forces of using chemical weapons against the civilians.

The Russian Centre for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides has information that on October 27, terrorists of Turkistan Islamic Party delivered from Maarrat al-Numan 20 containers with chlorine to carry out provocations.
Their unloading was conducted in the settlements of Kafr Nabl and al-Hawash.

Local civilians reported to the Russian Centre for Reconciliation that this group of White Helmets searched for residents who would like to take part in staged video shooting in exchange for food.

In addition, similar provocations are planned in other parts of Syria.

Yesterday, civilians of Aleppo province received information about the preparing of the next such action by the militants. To carry it out, members of the White Helmets organization arrived in Azaz, Mare and al-Rai settlements with professional video equipment, and containers with poisonous substances.

Russian military experts are closely monitoring the situation. Six special radiation, chemical and biological reconnaissance vehicles were deployed at Russian posts in close proximity to the demilitarized zone in Idlib province. The crews of these vehicles will regularly assess the radiation, chemical and biological conditions.

In the south-west of the Syrian Arab Republic, due to the withdrawal of illegal armed groups to the Idlib de-escalation zone and the elimination of ISIS gangs in the Golan Heights area, peaceful life is improving, refugees are returning, and roads are restored.

The Russian military police assist in ensuring the safety of the population and maintaining law and order, patrols the restored demarcation line in the Golan Heights area. In the interests of a full-scale resumption of the activities of the UN mission in the Golan Heights, Russian servicemen are monitoring the situation at six observation posts along the line of separation.

It should be noted that since the resumption of their mission in the Golan Heights, the UN representatives have not recorded a single violation that would be an obstacle to their activities.

In many ways, as you understand, this is due to the actions of the Russian military personnel.

As you know, in order to increase the level of security of the Russian military personnel and the protection of objects in Syria, the delivery of Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems and Polyana D-4 air defence systems were completed.

At present, Russian servicemen are preparing Syrian military personnel for combat work on these modern air defence systems.

We believe that it is advisable for “hot heads” to adequately assess the current situation in the region and refrain from provocative actions in the territory of Syria.

Peaceful life returns to the entire territory of the Syrian Arab Republic, which is under the control of the legitimate Syrian government. Residential neighborhoods are being restored, schools and hospitals are opening, roads, power stations, water supply systems are being repaired, industrial enterprises have started to work.

I want to draw your attention to the fact that just recently more than 50 foreign journalists from leading foreign publications — American, English, French, German, Chinese and other countries — traveled on civil buses across Syria from south to north and saw with their own eyes Syrian cities and towns are returning to peaceful life .

The situation is quite different in the territories controlled by coalition, in particular, the US armed forces.

The tragedy of the Syrian Raqqa city is known worldwide. It has been a year since, as a result of coalition bombings, this city was wiped off the face of the earth.

Thousands of bodies of dead citizens remain today under the ruins of buildings, which decompose and poison the aquifers. There is no water supply, no electricity, no mine clearance, no shops, hospitals and pharmacies in the city.

There is no any civilized route to Raqqa. Just a few of your colleagues get there illegally.

This city, as many others controlled by the coalition, sees prospering anarchy, famine and havoc which facilitate recovery of terrorist groups.

Speaking generally about the territory controlled by the United States in Syria, it should be noted that this is not a de-escalation zone, not a deconfliction zone, it is a “gray zone” in which the situation is rapidly deteriorating.

This is evidenced by a large number of terrorist attacks and hostage-taking. Since September 1, ISIS terrorists conducted 57 terrorist attacks and attacks against representatives of the Syrian Democratic Forces. Over 300 Kurdish militias were killed and wounded.

According to data received from the local population from east of the Euphrates, as a result of these attacks there are losses among foreign military personnel.

On October 11, ISIS militants seized several dozen hostages including refugees near the settlement of al-Bahra. Later, the hostages were killed by terrorists.

The Russian Centre for Reconciliation has been repeatedly approached by local civilians with information about the repression of the Arab population. Moreover, the repressions are carried out not only by ISIS terrorists, but also by armed goups of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Taking advantage of the inability of the United States and the Syrian Democratic Forces to fight the terrorists over Euphrates river, ISIS groups once again occupy the previously liberated territories.

ISIS terrorists took positions near the towns of Hajin, As Susah, Al-Safafna, al-Marashdah, Al-Baghuz Fawqani.

According to reports, ISIS groups receive modern equipment and vehicles. A special commission closely follow the supply routes of these weapons.

A few words about the tactics of coalition on the eastern shore of the Euphrates.

The US-led coalition’s aircraft are intensively delivering air strikes including the use of munitions prohibited by international conventions. These air strikes are characterized by low efficiency and most importantly non-selectivity, which undoubtedly leads to large civilian casualties.

Over the past month, more than 120 civilians were wounded by air attacks in east Syria. The Kurdish forces of the Syrian Democratic Forces periodically fall under the fire of the coalition.

Now I would like to turn to the situation in al-Tanf zone in south of Homs province.

The al-Rukban refugee camp is now in disastrous humanitarian situation caused by irresponsible actions of the United States, illegally occupying a large area in Syria. Moreover, the American military are not hiding intensive training of armed units from the local population.

Recently, the NBC TV channel issued a TV spot about General Votel inspecting training of militants in close vicinity of the al-Rukban refugee camp.

Think about who the squads are trained against?

Syrian government troops have already mopped up the area round this zone from the ISIS militants. From this area controlled by the United States, armed gangs raid against local towns as out of thin air.

Moreover, refugees from the al-Rukban camp are forced to recruit as militants to strive for a living

Repeatedly, through various channels, we appealed to the American command in the area to assist in providing assistance to refugees in the al-Rukban camp.

Only a few days ago, the Syrian government and the Russian Centre for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides carried out extensive work to ensure delivery of a humanitarian convoy to the al-Rukban camp experiencing extremely severe conditions.

A number of meetings was held with UN staff, and the U.S. representatives controlling the area.

It was planned to send the humanitarian convoy to the al-Rukban camp on October 27, 2018, carrying over 450 tons of food and medical supplies.

However the departure was disrupted by the threat of attack on it inside the 55-km zone controlled by the Unites States.

Humanitarian disaster in al-Tanf has been artificially supported by the American side for more than a year in order to preserve for itself a permanent source of recruits from the Rukban refugee camp to militant-controlled formations to organize regular sabotage against the Syrian military and authorities in the adjacent areas.

Illegal occupation of Syrian vast areas by the United States have not done and will no do any good to the Syrians. ISIS terrorists have not been eliminated in the zone illegally occupied by the Americans.

We see more social and ethnic conflicts in the territory controlled by the United States and there are no prospects for improving the situation in this region.

It is obvious that the political will, shown by Russia and its partners in Astana played a decisive role in ceasing bloodshed and ensuring the transition to a peaceful life in Syria.

We are convinced the only way to reach full settlement of crisis in Syria is to adhere to all-Syrian political dialogue based on recognition of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.

Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation