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Deputy PM: Russia is not going to expand air operation in Syria to neighboring countries

February 11, 18:52 UTC+3 BAGHDAD
"There can be no speculations about wider geographic scope of our actions, because for that the corresponding requests from other governments would be required," Dmitry Rogozin said
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Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin

© Mikhail Japaridze/TASS

BAGHDAD, February 11. /TASS/. Russia is not going to expand the operation of its air group in Syria to neighboring countries, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said, when asked by Iraqi media about the possibility Russian aircraft might be used to fight terrorists in Iraq.

"All Russian officials concerned have been saying this all along. We act exclusively at the invitation of the Syrian leadership and within Syrian airspace," he recalled. "There can be no speculations about wider geographic scope of our actions, because for that the corresponding requests from other governments would be required," Rogozin said.

"As for assistance to Iraq that might be provided in response to a proper appeal from the official authorities, it may proceed along three lines," Rogozin said, adding that information exchanges was one possibility.

"Russia has a great deal of such information - from the space group and from our military forces, which at the request from Damascus are pushing ahead with an air support operation (in Syria)," Rogozin said. Training crack units for the Iraqi special services and the Iraqi army is another likely type of assistance. And thirdly, support with special equipment and armaments."

He pointed out once again all that assistance might be furnished only if there was an official request from Iraq to Russia.

"We regard as counter-productive and provocative any independent operations in Iraqi territory, like those being conducted by Turkey," Rogozin said.

Prompt supplies of Russian weapons helped the Iraqi army stop an advance of Islamic State terrorists, Dmitry Rogozin said as he focused on military cooperation of Russia and Iraq.

"Due to prompt supplies made recently under direct orders of the Russian president, the Iraqi army managed to stop an advance of Islamic State (a terrorist group outlawed in Russia), rebuke them," Rogozin said.

He said that with this in view he had ‘in real earnest’ suggested the Iraqi side to hold a next session of the bilateral intergovernmental commission in Iraq’s Mosul after this city was liberated from terrorists.

"This is a certain motivation for all of us, to liberate Iraq from religious extremists and simply bandits," he said, noting that Russia was ready to offer help in terms of military-technical cooperation.

 Russia has no plans to carry out a ground operation in Syria and believes that the presence of any foreign ground troops in this country without the authorization of Damascus is inadmissible, Dmitry Rogozin added.

"All information about Russia’s actions on the ground in Syria cannot be true," he said answering a question from Iraqi journalists. According to Rogozin, "we cannot be more Syrian than the Syrians themselves."

"It is the Syrian troops that must fight on the ground, there should be no foreign troops on Syrian soil (without the authorization of Damascus)," he added.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister also criticized claims that Russia’s actions in Syria disrupt the balance of forces in the region.

"I can say in short: such statements may be made either by provocateurs or by fools," Rogozin told journalists following his visit to Iraq.

"Regarding whose actions slow down or speed up the process, you may see just by successes of the Syrian army: as soon as Russian aircraft interfered… we saw growing lines of Syrian volunteers to military enlistment offices, a sharp growth of motivation and enthusiasm in the Syrian army and of course successes: liberation of the first, second, third localities from terrorists," he said.

"As regards the actions of the Western grouping led by the United States, we would very much like them to have reasons for their own victories as well. Unfortunately, for the time being, we realize that they feel lonely," Rogozin said.

The deputy premier added that in Syria, Russia uses "the most modern, most high-precision weapons to hit protected centers of terrorists."

According to UN statistics, fighting between Syrian government troops and militants has killed over 220,000 people and displaced millions since its start in 2011. Gangs of militants making part of various armed formations, the most active of them being the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations, fight government troops.

Russia’s Aerospace Forces started delivering pinpoint strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations, which are banned in Russia, on September 30, 2015, on a request from Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Targets of the Russian aircraft include terrorists’ gasoline tankers and oil refineries.

Russia’s aircraft have made thousands of sorties since the start of the operation in Syria.

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