In his first address delivered after deciding to pull out his forces from Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that his country’s “army and navy have fully shown their increased capability and successfully used state-of-the-art weapons.”
Speaking at a Kremlin awards ceremony for troops who fought in Syria, Putin said: “You understand, you know, you feel that the army has changed radically over the past two plus years. It changed because people felt they could make the grade, and that’s the most important thing, because they understood how our military equipment works, how our management, logistics support agencies can work, how modern our Armed Forces have become. The whole world saw that.”
He added that over two years and a half, “more than 48,000 of our officers and soldiers took part in the Syria operation.” Among them were pilots and sailors, servicemen from special units and military police, sappers, intelligence officers and communications personnel, and officers from the command and military advisers.
At the battlefield in Syria, regime forces and their allies escalated their military campaigns by attacking the outskirts of the Idlib province in the northwest of the country.
Those forces were capable to widen their size of control over the area after using heavy weapons, backed by tens of airstrikes that set the province on fire.
Thousands of civilians were also forced to leave their villages in the direction of safest countryside areas in the north of Syria.
Sources from the Syrian opposition told Asharq Al-Awsat that the regime’s military campaign aims to control areas in the countryside of Aleppo, southern Idlib and eastern Hama, particularly the surrounding of Abu al-Duhur airport and the Rahjan area.
The sources confirmed that regime forces have advanced in the area in the past two days, adding that the military escalation was a means used by Russia and the regime to exert pressure on Turkey and opposition factions that earlier announced their refusal to participate in the Sochi Congress.