MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Formations of the Islamic State terror group (Daesh) were headed by commanders trained by instructors from countries of the Middle East and the West, Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov said.
"With the beginning of the events in Syria, the General Staff was monitoring the situation, knew the peculiarities of the tactical action of these gangs. We understood that in addition to terrorist actions, they used some tactics. These gangs were headed by commanders who had been specially trained by instructors from a number of countries in the Middle East and from Western countries. There even were former officers of the Iraqi army," Gerasimov told the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper in an interview published Wednesday.
"They had up to 1,500 tanks and armored vehicles alone in their arsenal. Plus, some 1,200 artillery pieces and mortars. It was de facto a regular army," Gerasimov stressed.
Gerasimov noted however, that the Russian army in Syria engaged in hostilities with some 70,000 Daesh terrorists with about 60,000 of them having been eliminated.
"As of September 30, 2015, there were some 59,000 [Daesh] in all formations in Syria. Moreover, within two years they managed to recruit some 10,000 militants more… But within these two years, in fact, around 60,000 militants were eliminated with more than 2,800 of them having arrived [in Syria] from Russia," he said.
He also said that Defeating the Jabhat Fatah al Sham terror group (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra or Nusra Front), is the main goal in Syria for 2018.