Moscow launched its anti-Daesh operation in Syria almost a year ago, on September 30, 2015. Unlike the US-led coalitions' efforts in the country, Russia's campaign has been authorized by Damascus and is conducted in close cooperation with government forces.
"Russian aircraft have brought Syrians hope for life and security," the source said. "In Latakia alone, dozens of villages were liberated in several months [after the Russian operation was launched]. Thousands of people returned to their homes. The SAA retook control of hundreds of strategic locations. People are no longer at risk of the militants shelling them because [radical fighters] were pushed far away from Latakia."
Moscow's military engagement has been instrumental in helping the SAA advance to areas hard to reach for land forces. Russian planes launched airstrikes against the most fortified militant positions often located in mountains and hills of the Latakia, Idlib and Aleppo provinces that made it possible for the SAA to storm those areas.
"In the forests of Latakia, a Russian pilot made a low-altitude pass to destroy terrorists with a machinegun. It was a tour de force. The terrorists did not expect a helicopter do something like that. Those who survived had to flee and hide behind trees," he said.
"The SAA has constantly shared geographic coordinates of terrorist locations and key militant supply routes with the Russian Aerospace Forces," he said. "In addition, Damascus-led forces provide data on their movement so that Moscow could provide air cover for the SAA's offensive operations."
The Syrian lieutenant hailed Russia for eliminating leaders of Daesh, al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups active in Syria. He also praised Russian experts who removed explosive devices from Palmyra. "They were extremely careful since they understood that they were working with ancient artefacts thousands of years old," he noted.
The source said that Russia's involvement helped to transform the SAA operation into an offensive at a time when Damascus was struggling to contain the insurgency. The SAA and Russian forces have achieved what the US-led coalition is only claiming to do: terrorists have lost the majority of their forces and territories in Syria, he added.