BEIRUT: Russian Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov on Wednesday said Russia’s Air Forces (VVS) will continue its operation against terrorists as long as the Syrian army continues its offensive against terrorists, Russian news agency reported.
At an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting of defense ministers and dialogue partners, Antonov said, “The operation is limited by the timeframe of the offensive being carried out by the Syrian forces against terrorists.”
He added, “No strikes are carried out against any other targets, for example, on the units of the so-called ‘moderate’ opposition.”
The Deputy Defence Minister reminded the participants that Russian strikes are targeting terrorists belonging to banned Russian terrorist groups, the self-styled Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat al Nusra, and the military intervention is in line with international law.
He added that the operation is being conducted at the request of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.
He stated that Russia’s military has used aviation and other support assets against terrorist targets operating in Syria, adding that Russian aviation assets had destroyed large quantities of military equipment, warehouses, ammunition depots, as well as dozens of control points operated by the terrorist groups.
Antonov stressed that terrorism poses a serious global threat, and referred to the Middle East as “the main frontline of the struggle against this evil.”
Russia called for the establishment of an international coalition against terrorism that would unite the concerned countries under international law as guided by the United Nations Charter.
Russia began its air campaign in support of ally President Bashar al Assad on September 30, saying it was targeting the IS group and other “terrorists”.
It is pertinent to mention that Russia’s military intervention was initiated after an official invitation by the legitimate government of Syria.
But rebels and their backers accuse Moscow of focusing largely on moderate and Islamist opposition forces rather than jihadists.
A US-led coalition that has been bombing jihadist targets in Syria since September 2014 has killed 3,649 people, according to the Observatory. It says 226 of those, around six per cent, have been civilians.