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Kremlin: Russian military operation in Syria restored potential of Syrian army

The operation of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria restored combat and emotional potential of the Syrian army, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday.

"Thanks to such an effective operation, Russian Aerospace Defense Forces helped restore offensive, combat and emotional potential of Syrian Armed Forces, which allows them to move forward so confidently now," Peskov said.

The Kremlin spokesman added that Russian air group helped to free Palmyra but noted that "our Armed Forces do not carry out any ground operations there." Peskov reminded about Russian President Vladimir Putin's statement that despite withdrawal of part of the Russian contingent from Syria, the remaining forces with continue fighting against groups designated as terrorist by UN and "will continue rendering support to the offensive actions of the Syrian army."

The Kremlin press service released a statement on March 14 that the Russian and Syrian presidents, Vladimir Putin and Bashar Assad, agreed to start withdrawing the main part of the Russian aviation task force from Syria because the Russian Aerospace Forces had fulfilled the fundamental tasks which had been assigned to them. Russia's Aerospace Defense Forces started delivering strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist groups (both banned in Russia) on September 30, 2015.

Russia left an air flight control center in the Syrian territory that will monitor the observation of the Syrian ceasefire, the Kremlin said. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu ordered starting the Russian troops' withdrawal as of March 15. Last week Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov said that Russian forces will continue delivering airstrikes at terrorists in Syria.

Kremlin satisfied with foreign assessments of freeing Palmyra

Moscow is satisfied with foreign assessments of freeing Palmyra and considers this as an "important and symbolic victory," Dmitry Peskov went on to say.

"We are rather satisfied with such assessments. We think that they fully describe the situation," Peskov said. "We are also convinced that this is a very important symbolic victory on the way of further fight against terrorism in Syria," he added.

Peskov said that Russian President Vladimir Putin already discussed freeing of Palmyra with Syrian President Bashar Assad, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The Kremlin is also aware about assessments from other countries, in particular, from German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The Syrian army said on Sunday that it liberated the ancient city of Palmyra, a UNESCO world heritage site, with support from the Russian air group. Palmyra, an ancient city in Syria's Homs province, was seized by gunmen of the Islamic State (a terrorist organization banned in Russia) in early summer 2015.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 28Mar16]

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