More than 54,000 militants have been eliminated in Syria over the past two years, including about 4,200 natives of Russia and the former Soviet republics, Chief of Russia’s General Staff Valery Gerasimov said on Tuesday.
“More than 1,000 inhabited communities have been liberated, over 54,000 members of illegal armed units killed (including more than 2,800 natives of Russia and 1,400 – of the former Soviet republics,)” he said at a meeting of the Russian Defense Ministry board.
Gerasimov noted that the Russian military servicemen in Syria encountered a well-trained enemy. Terrorists had about 1,500 tanks and armored vehicles, over 1,200 guns and mortars seized from Syrian and Iraqi government troops. “There was no shortage of ammunition and materiel, which were constantly replenished from abroad,” he stressed.
“Their commanders were trained in special camps under the watchful eye of Western instructors and military advisers from some countries of the Middle East, Western Europe and America. In some cases, special forces officers from these countries led illegal armed units,” the chief of Russia’s General Staff said.
Gerasimov added that, in terms of the level of cohesion and training, militant units were equal to the Syrian government troops. “Actually, every settlement was a fortified area with a well thought out fire system, concrete structures, a ramified system of artificial obstacles and underground communications,” he emphasized.
He recalled that, by the beginning of the operation, terrorist groups controlled more than 70% of Syria’s territory and continued to advance in all directions. “During the two years of our armed forces’ participation in the fighting, it was possible not only to turn the tide of the hostilities in favor of government troops but also rout big militant groups in the most important areas, liberate the key cities and recapture major communication lines,” Gerasimov concluded.