Mission accomplished: Russian Syria op results

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
© Igor Kovalenko
President Vladimir Putin gave an order to begin withdrawal of the main part of the Russian Air Force deployed in Syria on March 15.

Since the beginning of its military operation on 30 September, Russia has carried out more than 9,000 flights, and for the first time, massive strikes with both air- and sea-based cruise missiles. As a result, Russia has managed to significantly hinder, and in some places completely stop resource support for terrorists by intercepting the oil trade, and blocking the main routes of weapons and ammunition deliveries from Turkey.

The terrorists have been driven out of Latakia, land routes have been restored with Aleppo, Palmyra is under siege and combat action is continuing to liberate it from terrorists. Russia has helped to clear most of the provinces of Hama and Homs, unblock the Kweires airbase, and establish control over oil and gas fields near Palmyra: as of now, three large fields have begun to operate steadily. Over 2,000 criminals who came from Russia have been eliminated, including 17 field commanders. Our Air Force destroyed 209 facilities for producing, processing and transferring fuel, as well as 2,912 sources of petroleum product delivery.

Russia has started to withdraw the bulk of its Air Force from Syria. The mission is complete: 9000 strikes in 160 days, over 900 sorties, and 400 areas freed from ISIS.Read more here: http://on.rt.com/772a

Posted by RT Play on Wednesday, March 16, 2016

In total, with the support of the Russian Air Force, Syrian troops have liberated 400 towns and over 10,000 square kilometers of territory, thus achieving a significant turning point in the fight against international terrorism.

At the same time, Russia’s naval base in Tartus and its air base at Hmeymim will function as before. This part of the Russian military group has been in Syria for a number of years, and will continue to fulfill its role in monitoring the ceasefire and creating conditions for the peace process.

Groups involved in this work as a result of the negotiation process have begun taking active steps to ensure the ceasefire (there are currently 42 such organizations); and an additional 40 towns have joined the ceasefire.

There is monitoring of the ceasefire; a fairly large number of drones – over 70 – are being used for this purpose, as a means of intelligence gathering, including electronic intelligence and from satellites in space.

In addition to what has been achieved directly on the ground during military actions to repress terrorists, the truly effective work of the Russian Aerospace Force has created conditions for the start of the peace process. Russia has consistently advocated establishing an intra-Syrian dialogue in accordance with the decisions made in 2012. Our suggestions were met with a lack of will on the part of all our partners working on this process. But since the start of our military operation the situation began to change.

The initial steps were gradually taken, first based on President Vladimir Putin’s talks with US President Barack Obama: the Russian-American group began to prepare a broader process for external support for intra-Syrian talks. An international group supporting Syria has been created, which includes all the key players, including regional powers. Agreements on the parameters for the Syrian political process achieved in this group have been approved by two UNSC resolutions, which have mandated the three-dimension process of ceasing hostilities, broadening humanitarian access and starting intra-Syrian talks.

The second group of warplanes comprising Su-25 fighter jets led by a strategic airlifter, the Il-76, was captured on video on their way back to Russia from the Khmeimim airbase in Syria’s Latakia province

Posted by RT Play on Thursday, March 17, 2016

Thanks to these decisions, including the latest Russia-US agreement, intra-Syrian talks between the government and delegations of multiple opposition groups have finally been started in Geneva. The work is difficult and we have yet to see how all these groups can gather at one table. For now, UN representatives are working separately with each of them, but the process has begun, and it is in our common interest to make it sustainable and irreversible. Now that Russia has withdrawn the main part of its military in Syria, the burden of proof and responsibility to deliver is on all the participants of the Syrian peace process and all the outside players.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.