Briefing for the media by the Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff, Colonel General Sergei Rudskoi, on July 29, 2019.





The defeat of large terrorist formations allowed in December 2017 to complete active hostilities of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in the Syrian Arab Republic.

On the territory of Russia were withdrawn equipment and weapons that are not part of our bases in Hmeymim and Tartous.

The Russian grouping of troops has been reduced and brought up to the established state of bases sufficient to perform the tasks.

The Russian Hmeymim Air Base and the Tartous Navy service support centre function on a daily basis. The Russian Aerospace Forces grouping in Syria conducts operational and combat training activities, is in readiness to perform tasks to counter terrorism.

Aviation flights have been reduced to a minimum number as part of combat training and additional reconnaissance.

In the conditions of stabilization of the situation in Syria, a large-scale program continues to establish a peaceful life and the return of refugees. Industrial production and agriculture are being revived, schools, hospitals and other social infrastructure are being restored, residential areas are being rebuilt.

In order to assist the Syrian people and coordinate this work, joint coordination committee were created in Russia and Syria. In cooperation with the United Nations, they resolve issues of returning the refugees and providing them with everything they need.

Over the past yeah, 329,610 refugees have returned to the Syrian Arab Republic from Jordan and Lebanon.

Against the background of the process of restoring a peaceful life in the provinces under the control of the Syrian authorities, from June there has been an aggravation of the situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone.

In the framework of the Memorandum on the stabilization of the situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone of September 17, 2018, in close cooperation with Turkish colleagues, work is under way to normalize it.

The Russian side ensures the functioning of Turkish observation posts inside the de-escalation zone, patrolling and posting convoys.

At the same time, the militants of Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham terrorist group do not stop shelling settlements and positions of government forces. They make regular attempts to attack the front edge of the defence of the Syrian units.

Let me remind you that Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham grouping is Jabhat al-Nusra international terrorist organization that has changed its name, which is the al-Qaeda Syrian branch.

Over the past four months, 110 Syrian servicemen and 65 civilians have fallen victim to attacks, mortars and artillery shelling of terrorists from the territory of the Idlib de-escalation zone. More than 240 Syrian servicemen and 100 civilians were injured.

In addition, the terrorists do not stop trying to attack the Hmeymim Air Base. To do this, they use MLRS and unmanned aerial vehicles in their attacks. The 17 and 21 July, militants attempted to fire rockets on Russian targets from de-escalation area of ​​Idlib. Russian air base air defence means repelled these attacks.

Attacks at government forces positions have increased.

Yesterday at 5:40 and 6:10 terrorists launched two massive attacks on the Syrian army positions in the areas of Kafer Yahud and Jalama. In each of the directions, groups of up to 300 militants acted with the support of up to 5 tanks, up to 10 armored vehicles and up to 20 pickups.

These attacks were repelled by Syrian government forces with the support of aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces.

Since June 12, 2019, terrorists have made 324 shelling and attempted to attack positions 17 times, using tanks and artillery.

At present, reconnaissance assets are recorded by the covert movement and concentration of militants in the south-western part of the de-escalation zone. At least 500 terrorists from Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham have been redeployed from the northern parts of Idlib province. Preparations for offensive are being made.

In addition, gangs benefited from an increase of the number of their means of fire destruction of foreign production, including burst fire jet systems.

In cooperation with our Turkish colleagues, we are taking steps to identify and destroy the terrorists’ missiles, their equipment, their weapons and ammunition depots.

On the screen, you can see an example of destroying a position of terrorist gang preparing to hit a village in the northern province of Hama. These targets are monitored and destroyed first. We duly inform the Turkish part of our strikes.

Over the past month and a half, 11 tanks, 17 infantry fighting vehicles, 12 multiple launch rocket systems, 29 pickups with large-caliber machine guns, as well as 3 depots with more than 40 unmanned aerial vehicles, were destroyed by dotted strikes in the south-western part of the Idlib de-escalation zone.

I want to emphasize that only previously reconnoitered targets are taken to the defeat by Russian aviation, whose position is repeatedly checked through no less than three independent channels. All strikes are aimed and targeted.

Recently, a disinformation campaign to discredit Russia’s actions in the Idlib de-escalation zone has been unleashed by terrorists and organizations supporting their activities. It is claimed that Russian aviation allegedly strikes at civilians and socially significant objects.

All such allegations are based on lies of so called rescuers such as White Helmets, were repeatedly  caught in provocations, making fakes and working with terrorists. With staged shots, they spread fake messages about strikes allegedly inflicted by Russian aircraft on civilian targets.

On July 22, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, citing the so-called White Helmets, reported on the attacks of the Russian Aerospace Forces on the al-Khal market and adjacent residential areas in the town of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province. As a result, dozens of civilians were allegedly killed.

Unfortunately, these accusations were cited by individual European media and even representatives of the leadership of Western countries and certain international humanitarian organizations.

The market is easy to find on the map of the Maaret al-Numan city. It is also indicated on the geo-maps of the corresponding Internet services.

Once again I want to emphasize that Russian aviation was not used in this area on July 22 and did not fly there.

On July 24 and 26, Russian unmanned aerial vehicles twice conducted reconnaissance of the site and the surrounding area to check reports of the destruction of the market in Maaret al-Numan.

On the images obtained by means of control, there are completely no signs of destruction.

This is confirmed by the photographs of the Russian spacecraft taken on July 25, 2019, as well as the video taken directly on the al-Khal market in Maaret al-Numan, which we received the day before yesterday.

As can be seen in the frames, the allegedly destroyed market is completely intact and functions as usual.

It is unfortunate that representatives of structures and authoritative international organizations are again victims of the lies of the terrorists, easily verifiable by relaying the simulacra and unverified information they prepared to make their unfounded accusations.

I will separately dwell on the situation in the Rukban and al-Hol refugee camps located in Syria, illegally occupied by the United States of America.

To date, thanks to the joint efforts of the Russian Centre for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides and the Syrian government, 17,458 people have been withdrawn from the Rukban camp in the al-Tanf zone, most of them women and children. Much of the refugees have already returned to their places of permanent residence in the provinces of Damascus, Homs and Deir ez-Zor. The rest are located in specially deployed temporary accommodation camps in the Damascus area, where they have all the necessary living conditions and high-quality medical care.

At present, the Russian Centre for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides, together with the relevant structures of the United Nations and the Syrian Red Crescent, are working to organize the return of the remaining refugees from Rukban to their homes.

Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to return. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people will forever remain in the graves, hastily dug right behind the fence of this tent city.

The main blame for these deaths of civilians lies with the United States, who for a long time refused to do anything to resolve the gravest humanitarian crisis in Rukban.

However, the United States does not recognize its responsibility for the plight of refugees in the occupied al-Tanf zone.

According to our information, in the area of the 55-kilometer al-Tanf zone, US instructors are training a large armed formation and a number of small militant groups. The total number of militants reaches 2,700.

Part of the militants trained in al-Tanf is being transferred by US Air Force helicopters over Euphrates.

The most prepared saboteurs are sent to the territories controlled by the government forces to destabilize the situation and prevent the strengthening of the positions of the Syrian government there. Their tasks are sabotage, destruction of oil and gas infrastructure and the commission of terrorist attacks against government forces. Their presence was noted in the areas of settlements of al-Suwayda, Palmyra and Abu Kamal.

In the northeast of Syria, in Al-Hasakah province, the United States of America created a similar to Rukban camp al-Hol, which contains 75,000 people. There are mostly women and children.

Contrary to all calls by the international community, the United States does not even try to solve the problems of people’s survival in this practically unfit for living camps.

The region controlled by the United States is in devastation, populated areas lie in ruins, there is no electricity and water supply, medical aid is not available for residents, and social institutions are not functioning.

Traditional economic ties of the population of both banks of the Euphrates are severed, hundreds of thousands of people are on the verge of survival.

From June 1 to July 29 this year, over 300 terrorist acts were recorded in the territories over Euphrates river controlled by the United States and the coalition they lead to, which killed 205 and injured 154 servicemen of the Syrian Democratic Forces allied to Washington, killed 20 and injured 16 civilians.

In addition to training militants, the American structures in Syria are busy looting the oil facilities and deposits over Euphrates river, belonging to the Syrian government.

Recently, these facilities have been actively increasing the number of employees of US private military companies.

Today in Syria, the number of mercenaries of PMCs exceeds 3,500 people. They arranged for the extraction and sale of Syrian oil from Konako, al-Omar and Tanak fields located on the eastern bank of the Euphrates.

There is a criminal scheme for the cross-border supply of Syrian oil. It is simply a looting of the national wealth of Syria.

A significant part of the proceeds from the smuggling of hydrocarbons is spent on the maintenance of illegal armed groups, bribing the sheikhs of Arab tribal unions and fomenting anti-government sentiments.

All these activities of American PMCs are carried out under the guise of the aviation of the international antiterrorist coalition. In fact, it represents a smuggling business taken by the Americans from ISIS.

The continued supply of arms and military equipment by the United States also causes considerable concern.

In exchange for assistance in smuggling oil, the United States is pumping up both Kurdish and Arab forces with weapons, which then use it against each other.

All this only worsens the situation in the region already torn by war.

This raises an understandable discontent of the Syrian population. On the eastern bank of the Euphrates, demonstrations against the US occupation take place almost daily.

The current situation forced the leaders of all local communities to gather on June 20 of this year in Aleppo city for an emergency meeting of the Congress of the Peoples over Euphrates river.

At this event, demands were put forward in support of the restoration of the territorial integrity of Syria, the withdrawal of foreign military contingents illegally present on its territory and the immediate adoption of measures to restore the country’s united economy.

Under these conditions, we believe that it is advisable for our American colleagues to abandon the sanctions regime and really promote a political settlement within the framework of a single Syrian state.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation closely monitors the situation throughout Syria and intends to regularly inform the Russian and foreign public about the events taking place there.

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