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A Closer Look at How Russia and the Syrian Army Defeated Daesh

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Daesh fighter - Sputnik International
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Earlier this week, in his first-ever visit to the Hmeymim airbase in Latakia, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the withdrawal of Russian military personnel from Syria, and declared victory over Daesh, around two-years after his forces entered the conflict, at Damascus’ request.

Over the course of Russia’s military campaign in Syria, it has regularly adjusted and fine-tuned its deployment of military assets to optimally suit the situation on the ground. 

"I instruct the Defense Minister, the head of the General Staff to begin the withdrawal of the Russian troop contingents back to the places of their permanent location," Russian President Vladimir Putin said, during his visit to Syria earlier this week. 

The Syrian government officially requested military assistance from Russia after the Syrian Army was ousted from Idlib province by a coalition of terrorist groups, in 2015. 

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Although Russia’s air campaign was instrumental to Daesh’s defeat, the importance of other forms of Russian military assistance shouldn’t be underestimated. After all, warplanes and attack helicopters alone can’t yield territorial gains – a competent ground force is required to lead offensives. 

To bolster the Syrian Army’s manpower, new units were founded, trained, and equipped by Russia. For example, after Daesh recaptured Palmyra in early 2017, Russia and Syria jointly created the 5th Assault Corps – a unit consisting of at least 7,000 volunteers, drawn from across Syria. 

The 5th Assault Corps has served as a spearheading force for a range of anti-Daesh operations, particularly in central and eastern parts of the country. 

Russian military advisers proved invaluable to the Syrian Army, and the wider coalition of pro-government forces on several key fronts across Syria, utilizing their expertise to weaken Daesh, and roll-back its caliphate. 

As well as mediating reconciliation and cessation of hostilities deals between the Syrian government and non-Daesh militants, Russia also deployed military police to enforce such agreements. 

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These Russia-brokered agreements not only allowed aid to reach civilians, but also enabled the Syrian Army to allocate more resources and units to combat Daesh terrorists, as opposed to clashing with other groups. 

As the Syrian Army lacks the technical expertise and equipment to successfully carry-out complex demining operations, Russia deployed its own sappers to safely defuse and discard of IEDs and other explosives planted by Daesh terrorists. 

Russian sappers were deployed in significant numbers to Palmyra shortly after its liberation, and again to Deir ez-Zor, safely destroying thousands of explosive devices

Now that Daesh is defeated in Syria, Russia and its allies on the ground are turning their attention back to other militant groups, with large-scale offensives anticipated in north-western Syria, and parts of Damascus. 

Russia’s commitment to defeating Daesh hasn’t gone unnoticed by Syrians, and, during President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Syria, President Bashar al-Assad took the opportunity to thank the Russian military for their support. 

"The achievements that have taken place are very significant, very important for us. The theme of our meeting, the destruction of Daesh fighters, is very important for the whole world. We coped with this. On behalf of the whole people of the Syrian Arab Republic, I express my deep gratitude for the role your armed forces played. The victories that have been achieved have affected not only our state but also neighboring countries," President Assad said.  

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.   

Follow Suliman Mulhem on Twitter.

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