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    Russian Military Intel: Some States Use Terrorists in Attempt to Oust Assad

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    Some countries are using terrorists in attempts to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, the deputy head of the Russian General Staff's Main Intelligence Directorate said Wednesday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The United States, the European Union, as well as their allies in the Middle Eastern region consider Syrian President Bashar Assad to be illegitimate and call for his resignation, while Russia and Iran insist that it was up to Syrian people to decide the fate of their country and leadership.

    "They are carrying out attacks on both government forces and members of the moderate opposition which has joined the peace process. In many cases, this happens thanks to the double standards of certain countries, who attempt to use jihadists to overthrow Bashar Assad's regime," Sergei Afanasyev said at a Moscow security conference.

    Some 33,000 militants are fighting on the side of Daesh terrorist group in the Middle East, they are well-armed including with heavy weaponry, the Russian General Staff said Wednesday.

    "Daesh has a strong presence in the Middle East. It has some 33,000 militants operating in the region, including 19,000 in Iraq and 14,000 in Syria," deputy head of General Staff's Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), Sergei Afanasyev said.

    "Their heavy weaponry arsenals comprise tanks, armored personnel carriers, large-caliber recoilless rifles, anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems, including MANPADS," Afanasyev stressed.

     

    "The terrorist threat in Europe has significantly increased, largely due to fighters returning from war zones, ready to use the experience they have gained."

    Over 800 jihadists have entered Germany alone over the past four years, and there are tensions in areas of Austria, Belgium, France and other countries in Western Europe with Muslim diasporas, according to Afanasyev.

    Daesh terrorists in Libya are attempting to unite local tribes under their banners and pull in other regional countries into the conflict with the goal to destabilize the situation in that country, the Russian military said.

    "Extremists are trying to undermine the process of restoring Libya's statehood and destabilize the situation in the country. They carry out provocations and attacks on Libyan army and oil facilities."

    According to Afanasyev, Daesh is controlling some 250 kilometers (155 miles) of the coast around the Libyan port of Sirte and has recruited over 4,000 Libyan, Egyptian and Tunisian radical Islamists to fight on its side.

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