In Dara’a Province, several groups have agreed to lay down their arms, Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told reporters in Moscow on Thursday.
“Syrian opposition groups have been productively sharing intelligence with us. Many are shifting to cooperation with the Syrian government,” he said.
Aided by Russian airstrikes, the Syrian army is closing in on the last pockets of militant positions in Aleppo which borders Turkey.
Konashenkov said terrorists are trying to flee to Turkey, “blending into” civilians as they know Russian jets won’t attack peaceful population, the Tass news agency reported.
“Mass desertion is fixed among gunmen groups operating in the area of Aleppo. Terrorists intimidate local population and use force to drive people to the Turkish border,” he said.
He said terrorists were dropping their weapons and trying to hide among the civilians.
The spokesman also turned the tables on the US over allegations that two hospitals had been targeted in Russian airstrikes in Aleppo.
US warplanes, he said, had flown from Turkey to hit targets inside Aleppo on Wednesday.
“Only, aviation of the anti-ISIS [Daesh] coalition flew over the city yesterday,” Konashenkov said in a statement.
“At 13:55 Moscow time, two US Air Force A-10 attack aircraft entered Syrian airspace from Turkish territory. Reaching Aleppo by the most direct path, they made strikes against objects in the city,” he added.
The statement came after the Pentagon accused Russian and Syrian government forces of destroying two main hospitals in Aleppo in air raids.
Konashenkov said Russian warplanes only hit targets some 20 km (12 miles) from the city on Wednesday.
He said Russian armed forces and their partners “have deployed a multi-layered intelligence system that ensures reliable detection of targets.”
“Only after multiple checks of the obtained data and ruling out any risks for peaceful civilians, airstrikes are delivered at those targets,” he told reporters.
The US has been carrying out airstrikes inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Syrian government or a UN mandate.
Brett McGurk, special envoy of US President Barack Obama, said Wednesday Russian airstrikes around Aleppo “directly promote” the rise of Daesh.
Syria’s government advances and militant losses have unleashed a chorus of warnings by the West and its regional allies about a new wave of refugee influx.
On Wednesday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned that the humanitarian situation is rapidly deteriorating in Aleppo, saying the surge in fighting has displaced about 50,000 people, Press TV reported.
US A-10s bombed city of Aleppo on Wednesday, shifted blame onto Moscow – Russian military
“Yesterday, at 13:55 Moscow time (10:55 GMT), two American A-10 assault aircraft entered Syrian airspace from Turkey, flew right to the city of Aleppo and bombed targets there,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Thursday.
Also on Wednesday, Konashenkov referenced, the Pentagon’s spokesman, Colonel Steven Warren claimed that Russian warplanes allegedly bombed two hospitals in Aleppo.
“In his words, some 50,000 Syrian have been allegedly deprived of vital services,” Konashenkov said, pointing out that Warren forgot to mention either hospitals’ coordinates, or the time of the airstrikes, or sources of information. “Absolutely nothing.”
“No Russian warplanes carried out airstrikes in Aleppo city area yesterday. The nearest target engaged was over 20km away from the city,” Konashenkov stressed, adding that on the contrary, airplanes from the US-led anti-ISIS coalition were active over Aleppo, “both aircrafts and UAVs.”
“I’m going to be honest with you: we did not have enough time to clarify what exactly those nine objects bombed out by US planes in Aleppo yesterday were,” Konashenkov said. “We will look more carefully.”
Warren added, “There’s little or no ISIL in the Aleppo area, so they’re kind of, at this point, separate fights.”
The spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry drew attention to the stunning similarity of the situation with the American airstrike on the Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, and the US bombing of the positions of the Iraqi army in Fallujah.
“What they do first is make unfounded accusations against us – to deflect blame away from themselves. If it goes on like this, we’re going to make two media briefings: one for ourselves, another for those coalition guys,” Konashenkov said.
“Now they criticize us, saying we fly wrong way and bomb wrong places. Should we send them more maps?” Konashenkov questioned.
He recalled what the Russian Defense Ministry had pointed out earlier – the more terrorists Russia destroys the more it is being accused of indiscriminate airstrikes.
“If you look at how Western media presents information, it looks like the cities not controlled by the Syrian government are full of peaceful opposition and human rights activists,” the spokesman said.
The Russian Defense Ministry and its partners in Syria operate multilevel intelligence, maintaining unimpeachable target spotting, the MoD representative said, adding that all airstrikes are delivered only after repeated verification of a target to avoid civilian casualties. Konashenkov said intelligence also comes from the armed units of the Syrian opposition.
Konashenkov accused Western TV channels of presenting the ruins of the city of Aleppo, devastated long before the Russian Air Force was deployed to Syria, as the results of recent Russian airstrikes.
“An experienced orchestrator has a finger in this pie,” the spokesman said. “The obvious trend is to trumpet about alleged Russia sins and be silent about the ‘effectiveness’ of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition in Syria.”
“Over the past week, February 4-11, the planes of Russia’s aviation group in Syria made 510 sorties during which 1,888 facilities of terrorists were destroyed in the provinces of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama, Deir ez-Zor, Daraa, Homs, Al-Hasakah and Raqqah,” Konashenkov said.
The MoD spokesman shared with the media about wholesale desertion among the terrorists in Aleppo. The jihadists intimidate local civilians and force them to walk en masse towards the Turkish border, while the militants try to melt into the crowd.
“They know for sure that neither the Russian Air Force nor the Syrian government troops ever deliver strikes on non-combatants,” Konashenkov said.
Elaborating on some details of the latest Russian airstrikes in Syria, he related how Sukhoi Su-25 ground-support fighters eliminated three terrorist convoys on the highway connecting Homs and Al-Qaryatayn. A reconnaissance check revealed that airstrikes destroyed nine trucks loaded with munitions, two armored vehicles and over 40 jihadists.
In Daraa province, a Sukhoi Su-34 bomber wiped out a hardened terrorist position near Ghariyah settlement. The strike that destroyed the fortified strong point also eliminated two armored vehicles parked nearby.