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Briefing of Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy

The ceasefire, which had been established on December 30, 2016, has been observed throughout Syria. The number of detachments of the opposition, which had claimed to observe the ceasefire regime, has reached 204.

Within last two weeks, representatives of 55 inhabited areas have signed agreements on joining the ceasefire regime. The total number of the agreements has reached 1,452. More than 3,100,000 people live in the reconciled towns and villages.

The Russian Centre for reconciliation of the opposing sides continues providing assistance to civilians on the whole territory of Syria.

Since February 2016, Russian military servicemen have held 1,044 humanitarian events, in course of which civilians had received more than 1,600 tons of food products and items of first necessity.

Yesterday, convoy of the Russian Centre for reconciliation delivered 8 tons of humanitarian aid to the Shahba camp for refugees in suburbs of Afrin in the Aleppo province.

Military physicians of the Russian Defence Ministry have provided medical assistance to 14,000 people.

Syrian sappers trained by specialists of the International Mine Action Centre of the Russian Armed Forces, finish mine-clearing operation in residential quarters of East Aleppo, which had been liberated from insurgents. Living houses and other social infrastructure objects are being recovered. More than 7,000 families have returned to their houses in the Aleppo city.

Russian sappers are conducting mine clearance in the ancient city of Palmyra. By now, they have cleared 21 social facilities, 10 schools, 9 mosques and 2 clinics.

The servicemen have checked 1894 buildings and residential houses on the territory of 1135 hectares, 115 km of roads, over 5 thousand explosive devices and IEDs have been neutralized. 

The Russian Aerospace Forces continue supporting the Syrian army and militia detachments, which are fighting against ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra groupings.

At the same time, despite the agreements with the leaders of the Syrian opposition, we have not received maps with indicated districts, which are under control of the opposition and insurgents. This impedes our actions against terrorists of the Jabhat al-Nusra and the ISIS.

For three months of the 2017, 226 towns and cities and about 3,500 sq. meters of the Syrian territory have been liberated from terrorists.

In the north-east of the Aleppo province, for the last two weeks, the government troops have eliminated the encircled terrorist grouping near the Deir-Hafir city and have continued the offensive actions along the western bank of the Euphrates River. By now, the progress constitutes 10 kilometers. The Syrian army has approached the Jirah airfield.

As a result of repair works at the al-Tabqa dam, the water discharge is operational and the water pressure is reduced.

However, the repair works are suspended due to combat actions and bombardments conducted by insurgents in this region.

It is to be reminded that on March 26, the air raid conducted by the US-led coalition, had resulted in damaging of floodgates of the dam designed to provide water discharge and prevention of the reservoir overflow.

In the countryside of Palmyra, the Syrian army units continue expansion of the safe zone around the city.

In the result of the advance of the Syrian troops, insurgents are falling back and leaving high points and hilltops. In the course of a month, government troops have restored control over more than 230 square kilometers of the territory.

Using the impact of American cruise-missile strike on the Shayrat Air Base used by the Syrian aviation during the Hama and Palmyra military operations, terrorists counter-attacked units of government troops from south-west. All insurgents’ attacks were repelled, 2 tanks, 3 infantry fighting vehicles, 8 machine-gun carrying pickup trucks were destroyed and 150 terrorists were eliminated.

In the countryside of the Hama city, the government forces continue the offensive with the support of Russian Aerospace Forces.

Thirteen villages and towns have been liberated over an area of 67 square kilometers such as the towns of Khattab and Maardes.

Trying to restore its offensive momentum, insurgents, who sustained heavy losses, are trying to make counter-offensive efforts on Syrian army’s positions, which, however, are unsuccessful.

During the previous day, in the Maardes neighborhood, 3 enemy’s counter-attacks were repelled and as a result of that, 7 tanks, 5 infantry fighting vehicles were destroyed and 200 insurgents were eliminated. Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists also lost 1 tank, 2 infantry fighting vehicles and 2 mortars to Syrian army.

Therefore, the enemy sustains defeat after defeat and is losing ground.

In this conditions, Bashar Assad’s government has no need to use chemical weapons. Moreover, it does not have it at all.

It is well known, that in 2013 Syria willingly joined Chemical Weapons Convention and provided to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons all information about its military chemical program.

Special equipment of facilities used for chemical weapons production was disabled and all means of delivery have been eliminated under the control of the OPCW within the period from 2013 to 2016.

Stocks with toxic chemicals were shipped on the American vessel “Cape ray” and then recycled at the enterprises of the USA, the UK, Finland and Germany.

Experts of OPCW confirmed the destruction 10 of 12 facilities, which had been used for the storage and production of chemical weapons. The Syrian authorities do not have access to the remaining two facilities because they are on the territory controlled by the so-called opposition.

For this reason, the OPCW could not confirm the fact of destruction of chemical weapons there.

The international inspectors had conducted additional inspections of a number of Syrian objects that had nothing to do with the production and storage of chemical weapons. They did not confirm production or any presence of toxic substances.

Therefore, Syria as a member of the Convention on the prohibition of chemical weapons, has fulfilled its obligations and eliminated all special equipment for production of chemical weapons, missile head shells, air bombs and the storage of toxic chemicals.

This fact was documented and confirmed by official representatives of the OPCW. It says that Syria has no chemical weapons.

At the same time, cases of usage of chemical weapons by the opposition forces have been recorded, including usage of handicraft chemical weapons. For some of them, the investigation materials were forwarded to representatives of the OPCW.

On November 16, 2016, in the Marret Umm Haush district of Aleppo experts of the Russian Defense Ministry examined the unexploded handicraft 240-mm mine that was used by militants against civilians. Russian specialists confirmed the presence of mustard gas in it.

Results of the research in January 2017 were submitted to the OPCW by the Syrian national authority, which had been responsible for the implementation of the Convention on the prohibition of chemical weapons.

Accusations in mass media of chemical weapons’ use by Syrian government in the Khan Sheikhoun inhabited area in the Idlib province were analyzed properly.

Their authenticity attracts lots of questions, and not only of the Russian party. More and more reputable experts and organizations tend to think about fabricated nature of the video.

However the United States chose not to wait for the investigation results once again. On April 7, in violation of the international law, the US government ordered to conduct the missile strike on the Shayrat airfield, which killed nine civilians, including four children. About ten people were wounded.

Therefore, thorough investigation of the so-called Syrian aviation chemical attack on the Khan Sheikhoun town is to be held.

In its turn, the Russian party is ready to provide any opportunity to ensure the safety and to allow independent experts and representatives of the OPCW to arrive at the Shayrat airport for the examination. Specialists know that the traces of chemical weapons cannot be hidden.

The Syrian government also expressed readiness to allow experts to arrive at the airfield and to contribute to their work.

Moreover, according to the information, insurgents are delivering toxic substances to the areas of Khan Sheikhoun, Jira airport, East Ghouta and to the west from the Aleppo city.

The purpose of these actions is making another reason to accuse Syrian government of chemical weapons use and provocation of new US attacks.

The Russian party warns against making such steps.

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