Russia’s Defense Ministry says US-led coalition unlikely to launch battle for Raqqa soon

Russian Defense Ministry’s official spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov

Russian Defense Ministry’s official spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov

© Sergei Bobylyov

MOSCOW.  . French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s words that a battle to recapture the Syrian city of Raqqa from Islamic State will start in the coming hours are not based on true understanding of the situation “on the ground,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said on Saturday.

Raqqa is believed to be an unofficial capital of Islamic State terrorist group (banned in Russia) in Syria. On Friday, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, “Raqqa is encircled and the battle for Raqqa will start in the coming days.”

“Friday’s optimism of the French defense minister, who announced Raqqa is encircled, has some specific national sources of inspiration which are not related to reality and situation ‘on the ground’,” Konashenkov said.

“These rosy slogans about the encirclement and speedy victory of the (US-led) coalition in Iraq’s Mosul have ended up with heavy casualties among Iraqi forces and a growing humanitarian disaster,” he added. “Even the biggest optimists have stopped hoping that Mosul will be fully recaptured from Islamic State this year. It is evident for any military expert that liberation of Raqqa will not be an easy stroll for the international coalition.”

Raqqa may be retaken in case all the forces that fight against terrorism will join efforts, he said.

“Tangible results and deadlines for the operation will directly depend on the understanding and readiness to coordinate their actions with all the forces fighting against international terrorism in Syria,” the defense spokesman said.

On Thursday, spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces told the Syrian daily Al-Watan that Kurdish fighters, backbone of the US-led coalition, were about 16 kilometers east of Raqqa and 5-6 kilometers north of it. He claimed the Syrian Democratic Forces would isolate Raqqa in a span of two weeks to start preparations for assault.

 

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Even Optimists Losing Hope in Mosul Liberation From Daesh in 2017 – Russian MoD

Members of the Iraqi army's 9th Division fire a multiple rocket launcher from a hill in Talul al-Atshana, on the southwestern outskirts of Mosul, on February 27, 2017, during an offensive to retake the city from Daesh fighters

 

Even optimists are losing hope that Mosul could be liberated from Daesh this year, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

MOSCOW.  Even the most optimistic souls are losing hope that the Iraqi city of Mosul can be liberated from Daesh by the end of 2017, the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said Saturday.

“Let me remind you that rose-colored slogans about the encirclement and the quick victory of the coalition in Iraqi Mosul have already resulted in significant losses of Iraqi forces and a growing humanitarian catastrophe. Even the greatest optimists are losing faith in the possibility of the complete liberation of Mosul from Daesh this year,” Konashenkov said.

The city of Mosul has been occupied by Daesh, outlawed in many countries, including Russia, since 2014. The operation to retake it began on October 17, 2016 and resulted in the liberation of Mosul’s eastern part this January, but fighting continues in the city’s western areas. The operation to liberate it started on February 19.

Turkey’s Membership in NATO Not Obstacle to S-400 Deliveries – Putin’s Aide

S-400 regiment enters on duty in Crimea

 

Russia sees no obstacles to delivering its S-400 air defense systems to Turkey in connection with Ankara’s membership in NATO, Russian Presidential Aide for Military-Technical Cooperation Vladimir Kozhin said Thursday.

MOSCOW      Russia’s Rostech CEO Sergei Chemezov earlier confirmed that Moscow and Ankara were in talks on deliveries of S-400 air defense systems to Turkey.

“Negotiations with Turkey on the subject of the deliveries of S-400 are underway, they [Turkey] are very interested. Yes, Turkey is a NATO member, I must say that we are not afraid [to supply Turkey with S-400]. Before we deliver anything, we firmly regulate the results of intellectual activity. And each party undertakes commitments determining what it has the right to do with the delivered weapons, and what it cannot do,” Kozhin told Rossiya 24 broadcaster answering a corresponding question.

Earlier, Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık said that Ankara will not integrate S-400 it plans to buy from Russia into NATO missile defense system.The S-400 is Russia’s next-generation air defense system, carrying three different types of missiles capable of destroying aerial targets at a short-to-extremely-long range. The weapon is capable of tracking and destroying all existing aerial targets, including ballistics and cruise missiles.

Turkey canceled last November its $4-billion tender for the procurement of components for a domestic missile defense system announced in 2009.

Information War Against Russian Weapons Underway – Putin’s Aide

Mig-35

 

A number of countries are waging an information war against Russian armaments in order to undermine Russia’s positions on the international arms market, in particular, discrediting the new MiG-35 fighter in the media, Russian Presidential Aide for Military-Technical Cooperation Vladimir Kozhin told Rossiya 24 television channel.

The Russian MiG-35 (NATO reporting name Fulcrum-F) is a 4++ generation jet, which has been created with the use of technical decisions used in the MiG-29M/M2 and MiG-29K/KUB aircraft and new advanced technologies.According to open sources, MiG-35 is capable of carrying up to seven tonnes of payload and reach a speed of 2,700 mph

“Of course, there are, unfortunately, concrete examples. We did not have time to roll out our MiG-35 — a unique aviation complex, and already there were articles, analytical materials that it’s all old, etc. These are exactly elements of competitive struggle,” Kozhin said.

The MiG-35 fighter can participate in high-intensity conflicts, amid conditions where the enemy is engaged in aggressive air defense, and is capable of striking aerial and surface targets. The Russian Aerospace Forces will replace all light fighter aircraft with the new planes. The MiG-35 will master the use of laser weapons.

Some states are making attempts to undermine Russia’s positions on the arms market, using any methods, up to direct pressure on Russia’s partners in military-technical cooperation, he said.

“If we go back to the sanctions… many decisions were aimed precisely at squeezing us out of these or those markets. And here the partners do not shun any actions, up to direct pressure on our partners, creating difficulties for settlements,” Kozhin said.

Syria in Past 24 Hours: Strategic Heights Near Palmyra under Army’s Control Again

Syria in Past 24 Hours: Strategic Heights Near Palmyra under Army's Control Again

   (FNA)- The Syrian army forces continued advances to establish more security in the recently-liberated Palmyra (Tadmur) in Eastern Homs and drove the ISIL terrorists out of the strategic heights of al-Talileh in the Southeastern parts of the ancient city.

Homs

The Syrian army forces continued operations to establish more security in Palmyra and drove the ISIL terrorists out of another strategic region.

The army soldiers engaged in heavy clashes with the ISIL militants in the Eastern parts of Homs, killing and wounding a large number of them.

They could push back the terrorists from al-Talileh mountains in the Southeastern parts of Palmyra and retook control of strategic area.

The army has been trying to stretch its chain of security around the ancient city of Palmyra in recent days.

Also in the past 24 hours, more militants ended fight against the Syrian Army in Homs province and received government amnesty, local sources declared on Monday.

The sources said that 150 militants from al-Wa’er neighborhood in Homs that had laid down arms and applied for government pardoning were granted amnesty.

Relevant reports also said on Sunday that more than 1,400 militants who rejected the government’s peace offer have left al-Wa’er district along with their family members.

According to SANA news agency, over 1,400 gunmen and members of their families left al-Wa’er neighborhood in the Western outskirts of Homs city for the Northern part of Homs province as part of the reconciliation agreement that was reached in the neighborhood, paving the way for the return of all state services.

432 gunmen who rejected the reconciliation agreement and 1,056 of their family members have headed towards the Northern territories of Homs.

Damascus

The Syrian army forces pushed back the terrorists’ massive offensive on their positions in the Northern parts of Jobar and laid siege on tens of militants in the region after launching a new military operation.

The Syrian soldiers could besiege a large number of terrorists who had attacked the army bases in Jobar, in the buildings near al-Ma’amel district.

The army had sent recruitments and military equipment to Jobar after the terrorists attacked the region from al-Qalamoun.

According to field sources, the army commanders have called on the besieged terrorists in al-Ma’amel district to lay down their arms and surrender to the government forces.

Also on Monday, a Syrian military source dismissed media reports claiming that the al-Nusra (Fatah al-Sham) Front has occupied certain parts of al-Abbasiyeen square and the industrial region in Damascus.

“The army is in control of the regions that had been evacuated on Monday morning after it came under two suicide attacks by the militants, and the army troops have inflicted heavy loss and damage on the terrorists,” the source said.

He added that the army forces have also regained control over al-Jobar region’s power department and the buildings of the weaving company and Mercedes firm and repelled the terrorist groups’ massive attacks.

Elaborating on the terrorists’ recent offensive against the army positions in Damascus that failed, the source said that the attacks were headed by al-Nusra Front to open their way into the parking lots, al-Abbasiyeen square and the industrial region between al-Jobar and al-Qaboun districts and reopening the supply routes for the terrorists besieged in al-Jobar through al-Qaboun-Barzeh-Tishreen districts.

He underlined that the army’s artillery and missile units, supported by the air force, could repulse the massive offensive, and killed and wounded a large number of terrorists.

Meantime, other field sources in the Eastern Ghouta of Damascus dismissed reports on the Syrian army’s withdrawal from near Douma city.

Aleppo

The Syrian army soldiers continued their military operations in Eastern Aleppo and seized back control of more regions from the ISIL terrorist group.

The army forces intensified operations to liberate Deir Hafer region and could retake full control of al-Sharimeh village and the nearby farms from the ISIL militants.

A military source said that tens of ISIL terrorists have fled the battleground in the region.

“Over 20 militants were killed during the army operations,” he added.

Deir Ezzur

Syrian army units engaged in clashes with the terrorist groups who sought to open their way into the neighborhoods of al-Rushdiyeh and al-Huweiqah in Deir Ezzur in an attempt to attack the locals and the military posts that protect the civilians.

The army units foiled the attack, killing a number of terrorists and injuring many others.

A fortified command post and a barricade of the terrorists were hit and destroyed in al-Rushdiyeh neighborhood, a field source said, stressing that all the militants inside were killed.

The Syrian army units also carried out special operations against the ISIL in Southern Deir Ezzur, advancing in the factories zone after inflicting heavy losses on the terrorists.

The Syrian soldiers also foiled ISIL attacks in the direction of the regiment 137 Base in the Southwestern outskirts of Deir Ezzur and Deir Ezzur military airbase, killing and wounding scores of Takfiri militants.

Raqqa

The US-led coalition fighter jets launched another round of air assault on civilian areas in al-Tabaqa region in Western Raqqa, killing at least 18 Syrian people.

According to local activists, the US coalition carried out an airstrike over al-Andalas farms in Western Raqqa, killing at least 18 civilians near the strategic town of al-Tabaqa.

The US army had previously claimed that only 220 civilians were killed in the air attacks of the coalition under its command in Syria and Iraq since 2014.

The US command also noted that it could not investigate all reports of possible civilian casualties using “traditional investigative methods,” which involves interviewing witnesses and examining the site of the strike.

Instead, the coalition interviewed pilots and servicemen that took part in combat missions to draw results. The US command also reviewed strike surveillance videos and analyzed government and non-governmental organizations’ traditional and social media content.

Israeli Airstrikes on Syria ‘Seek to Prevent Iran’s Influence in Region’

Israeli Air Force F-15 jet. (File)

 

The airstrikes, recently conducted by the Israeli Air Force on Syrian territory, are supposed to make it clear that Tel-Aviv won’t allow Tehran to strengthen its positions in the region, Austrian Der Standard newspaper reported.

Israeli airstrikes have targeted Syria since 2012. In this way, the Israeli authorities seek to prevent Hezbollah — a Shiite militant group and political party based in Lebanon, which currently fights on the side of the Syrian government — from developing advanced weapons and transporting them to Lebanon.

“The Israeli military strike on Friday night was nothing exceptional in itself. But the time and the progress raise certain questions,” the newspaper wrote.

This time, Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad responded to the attack with Russian-made ground-to-air missiles, leading to an escalation of the situation.However, the newspaper believes that Assad wouldn’t want to force his country into a new devastating conflict.

The newspaper assumes that Israeli actions could be a signal to Russia, which plays a major role in the Syrian crisis. According to the author, Israel could have sent a signal to Moscow that, “despite all its love for Putin,” it won’t tolerate the presence of Iran and its allies in Syria.

On Friday, Israeli Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister Yisrael Katz confirmed the attacks saying that it targeted a convoy which was supposedly carrying weapons to the Shiite Hezbollah movement.

On the same day, the Syrian Army command said in a statement that it had downed one of four Israeli Air Force jets that violated its airspace and purportedly targeted Syrian units near Palmyra.The Israel Defense Forces (IDF), in turn, said on Friday that it used the advanced Arrow missile defense system to shoot down a Syrian anti-aircraft missile that was fired at an Israeli jet.

“We have no interest in interfering in the Syrian civil war, we are neither for nor against (President Bashar) Assad, and we have no interest in clashing with the Russians,” Defense Minister Lieberman said on Sunday.

“Our main problem is with the transfer of advanced weapons from Syria to Lebanon. That is why every time we identify an attempt to smuggle game-changing weapons, we will act to thwart it. There will be no compromise on this issue,” he added.

Following the incident, Moscow summoned Israeli Ambassador to Russia Gary Koren to inquire about airstrikes on Syrian troops near Palmyra, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Monday.

Russian Center: Syrian Peace Plan Signed by Militants in 1,356 Regions

Russian Center: Syrian Peace Plan Signed by Militants in 1,356 Regions

    (FNA)- The Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria announced in its latest report that militants in more regions laid down arms and joined peace with the Damascus government in the last 24 hours.

“Within the last 24 hours, 3 ceasefire agreements have been signed with representatives of Basyr and al-Qunniyah in the Daraa province as well as Bshaquh in Lattakia province. The total number of inhabited areas, the leaders of which have signed the reconciliation agreements has reached 1,356,” the report said on Saturday.

According to the document, negotiations on joining the ceasefire regime are being held with various field commanders from the provinces of Aleppo, Damascus, Homs, Hama, and Quneitra. The number of armed formations which have claimed to observe the ceasefire regime stands at 135, added the report.

Chief of the Russian General Staff Main Operational Directorate General Sergei Rudskoi had reported last Friday that militants in 47 other terrorist-controlled regions have laid down their arms and joined the peace process, pushing the total number of areas that given up fight against the government to stand at 1,338.

“The regime of the cessation of hostilities introduced on December 30, 2016, continues to be maintained throughout Syria and over the past week, agreements on the accession to reconciliation have been signed with officials from 47 settlements, pushing the total number to 1,338,” General Rudskoi said.

“The number of ‘moderate opposition’ units that declared their adherence to the cessation of hostilities has increased to 199,” he added.