Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Russian airstrikes kill 200 militants in Syria ahead of elections build-up

Armed groups in the region want to destabilise the situation in Syria ahead of presidential elections just announced for May 26.

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The Russian military said on Monday that their airstrikes have killed about 200 militants in eastern Syria.

Alexander Karpov, the head of the Russian military’s Reconciliation Center for Warring Parties in Syria, said Russian warplanes hit militant training bases and hideouts.

Karpov said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies that the air raid killed around 200 militants and destroyed vehicles, ammunition, and explosives used for creating improvised explosive devices. He said the militants’ base had served as a staging ground for terror attacks across Syria.

Xinhua reports that illegal armed groups in the camouflaged base northeast of Palmyra,  were planning attacks on government agencies in major cities to destabilise the situation in Syria ahead of presidential elections.

Russia has waged a military campaign in Syria since 2015, to help President Bashar Assad’s government retake control of the country after a devastating 10-year conflict.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the airstrikes, saying they were followed by a sweep by Russian troops and the Syrian army in search of Islamic State (IS) militants cells in the Homs desert.

The ground operations took place under heavy cover by Russian military helicopters. The Observatory said 26 IS militants were killed in the sweep.

The Observatory said the raid may have been in response to the IS group’s claims that it had killed two Russian soldiers in the desert.

The AP reports that Syria’s parliament speaker announced on Sunday that presidential elections in the war-ravaged country will be held on May 26.

The election is widely expected to give Assad a fourth seven-year term. It is unclear whether any candidates will run against him, but any such runs would be symbolic.

The US last month warned Assad that the Biden administration will not recognise the result of its presidential election unless the voting is free, fair, supervised by the United Nations and represents all of Syrian society.

Syria has been in the throes of civil war since 2011, when Arab Spring-inspired protests against the Assad family rule turned into an armed insurgence in response to a brutal military crackdown.

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