Syria mission accomplished, declares Russia

Russia’s Defense Ministry on Thursday declared its mission accomplished in Syria to oust Daesh militants. (Photo courtesy: Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation)
Updated 07 December 2017
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Syria mission accomplished, declares Russia

MOSCOW: Russia’s Defense Ministry on Thursday said its mission to oust Daesh terrorists from Syria had been “accomplished” with the country “completely liberated” from the extremist group.
“The Russian armed forces’ goal to defeat armed groups of the Daesh terrorist organization in Syria has been accomplished,” said senior military officer Sergei Rudskoi.
“There is not a single village or district in Syria under the control of ISIL (Daesh). The territory of Syria has been completely liberated from fighters of this terrorist organization,” he told reporters.
There has been an “unprecedented” involvement by Russia’s airforce in recent days, he said, with warplanes making 100 sorties and staging up to 250 strikes daily.
At the same time, special forces were active on the ground directing planes and “destroying the most odious leaders of militant groups behind enemy lines,” he said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict, said Thursday that Daesh still holds about 8 percent of Deir Ezzor province.
Rudskoi said “separate sabotage bands of” Daesh could still be operating but would be fought by Syrian government troops, indicating that Russia’s involvement would be scaled down.
With the liquidation of armed bands of Daesh in Syria, the Russian contingent will concentrate its main efforts on providing aid to the Syrian people in rebuilding peace and ensuring cease-fire commitments were met, he said.
Russia began its bombing raids in September 2015 in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s beleaguered forces.
Those strikes have helped Assad regain control over much of war-ravaged Syria.
Last month, President Vladimir Putin said efforts to end the war were entering a “new stage” as the focus shifts from military intervention to political reform.
More than 340,000 people have been killed since the conflict broke out in March 2011 with protests against Assad’s rule that sparked a brutal crackdown.


Fresh protests in Iraq as medics raise death toll to 11

Updated 33 min 58 sec ago
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Fresh protests in Iraq as medics raise death toll to 11

  • Security forces remained deployed around the capital Baghdad
  • Overall medical sources put the death toll in the unrest at 11 people

BAGHDAD: Fresh protests hit southern Iraq Sunday as medical sources put at 11 the number of demonstrators killed in two weeks of unrest sparked by ire over corruption and lack of public services.
Security forces remained deployed around the capital Baghdad after struggling Friday to disperse crowds of angry protesters who took to the streets.
Demonstrations have roiled swathes of southern and central Iraq since erupting in the oil-rich port city of Basra on July 8, when security forces opened fire killing one person.
Overall medical sources put the death toll in the unrest at 11 people, three in each of the cities Basra, Samawah and Najaf, and one in both the cities of Diwaniyah and Karbala.
Most of them were killed by gunfire from unidentified assailants, while one person suffocated to death on tear gas used to disperse the demonstrators.
Protesters on Sunday took to the streets in the cities of Samawah and Nasiriyah, chanting “no to corruption,” a scourge Iraqis say has long blighted their country.
Since the start of the demonstrations those involved have focused their anger on the political establishment, with government buildings and party offices being sacked or set ablaze.
The Iraqi authorities have scrambled to halt the unrest and have blocked social media sites online to try to prevent the spread of protests.
Iraq is in a state of political limbo with Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi overseeing a caretaker government as wrangling to form a new government drags on after elections in May.
A coalition headed by populist cleric Moqtada Sadr topped the polls, campaigning on an anti-graft ticket to claim the most seats in parliament.