05:32 GMT21 January 2021
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    Russia cannot be linked to the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe as its anti-terrorist air campaign in Syria started long after the crisis had hit the continent, the Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

    LATAKIA (Sputnik) — NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Philip Breedlove has accused Moscow of "weaponizing" refugee migration to Europe to destabilize the European Union.

    "Russia started its operation in Syria on September 30 long after the European migrant crisis had erupted, and, therefore, has nothing to do with it," ministry's spokesman Maj. Gen Igor Konashenkov told reporters.

    On September 30, Russia launched an air campaign against terrorist groups in Syria following a request from President Bashar Assad. Russian authorities have stressed that the military operation will continue as long as the Syrian Armed Forces continue their offensive liberating the country's regions from extremists.

    "What's most important is the fact, recognized by the UN, that the Russian operation resulted in a substantial reduction of the number of refugees from Syria and the start of the reconciliation process," Konashenkov stressed.

    Since 2011, Syria has been mired in a civil war with the country's government forces fighting against numerous opposition groups and terrorist organizations, including Daesh and al-Nusra Front.


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