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18:49 GMT +3 hours19 December 2014
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Syria’s ‘No-Nonsense’ Air Defenses Praised by Russian General

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The Syrian armed forces have effective air-defense systems that can fend off massive airstrikes against the country, a senior Russian military official said on Saturday.

MOSCOW, December 22 (RIA Novosti) - The Syrian armed forces have effective air-defense systems that can fend off massive airstrikes against the country, a senior Russian military official said on Saturday.

“Syria’s air-defense system is a no-nonsense force. As a result, no one has ever used serious air combat power against it,” Ground Forces Air Defense commander Maj. Gen. Alexander Leonov said in an interview with radio Ekho Moskvy.

Syria’s air defense systems are a primary target for the insurgents, he added.

Syria’s opposition coalition on Thursday reiterated its condemnation of the Russian government’s policy and position on political and military support for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime but denied it has declared “open season” on Russian nationals.

Russia has staunchly opposed all international efforts to crack down on Assad, including in the UN Security Council, saying they are biased in favor of the Syrian opposition.

The UN has estimated that nearly 40,000 have died since the violence began in March 2011.