The Nusra Front militants remain the major source of instability not only in Syria's Idlib de-escalation zone but in the entire country, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Wednesday.
Konashenkov explained that the Nusra militants are receiving arms supplies from the third parties and are trying to derail "the peace process in the de-escalation zones, ousting the moderate opposition from there."
"This confirms our fears that the terrorists of Al-Qaeda's offshoot have become an obedient tool in the hands of one or a number of technologically advanced countries that are dissatisfied with Russia's key role in liberation of Syria from Daesh," Konashenkov stressed, recalling Nusra's latest actions in Syria, including the attack on Russian airbases in Tartus and Hmeimim that was launched by the Nusra militants with the use of the sophisticated armed unmanned aerial vehicles.
This comes after it was reported that MANPAD was used to down a Russian Su-25SM that was on patrol over the Idlib de-escalation zone. Pilot Roman Filipov ejected before the plane crashed and later engaged in a fight with militants on the ground. He eventually blew himself up with a grenade in order not to be captured by the terrorists.
The body of Filipov has been transferred to Russia. He is expected to be buried in his hometown of Voronezh on February 8.
Russian Armed Forces Units Remaining in Syria Self-Sufficient
The Russian Armed Forces' contingent remaining in Syria is self-sufficient, the Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday.
"At the moment, the main tasks of the Russian Armed Forces stationed in Syria are monitoring the ceasefire regime in de-escalation zones and assisting the Syrian people in establishing a peaceful life. There is a self-sufficient contingent of the Russian Armed Forces in the Syrian Arab Republic for these purposes,” the ministry’s statement read.
Russia has been conducting the military operation in Syria since 2015 at the request of the Syrian government. In December 2017, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that Daesh in Syria had been completely eliminated. President Putin has also said that the "victory over terrorists" had been achieved.
The Russian military announced it had reached agreement with Damascus that it will keep the use of Tartus and Hmeimim bases for 49 years.