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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Russia sends demining team to Syria to clear Aleppo's liberated areas

Iran Press TV

Sat Dec 3, 2016 2:7AM

Russia has dispatched a bomb disposal unit to Syria to help demine the liberated eastern parts of the flashpoint city of Aleppo, the Russian Defense Ministry says.

"An advance unit of the international anti-mining center of the Russian Armed Forces has flown to Syria to participate in the humanitarian demining of districts in eastern Aleppo liberated from the militants," the ministry said in a statement, RT reported on Friday.

The statement further said that the bomb disposal unit "is fully autonomous and is equipped with the most advanced demining tools and means of protection."

According to Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoi, more than 200 servicemen and 47 units of combat and special equipment would be involved in clearing the newly-liberated areas of the city from mines and booby traps.

The former commander of the Russian engineering troops, Colonel-General Nikolai Serdtsev, described the bomb disposal mission in Aleppo as much more "complicated" than the one carried out in Palmyra city, in the central province of Homs, back in April and May.

He added that Russian sappers in Aleppo could not use unmanned ground vehicles, such as the Uran-6 bomb disposal robots, which were employed in Palmyra.

"Robots work on search of metal, and there the whole [city] is inundated with armature. Spoons, forks, everything will be indicated and it will be extremely problematic to operate for mine detectors," Serdtsev told the Interfax news agency on Wednesday.

According to the Russian military, around 18,000 explosive objects were defused, and over 8,500 booby-trapped houses were cleared by the Russian demining troops in Palmyra. In addition, over 800 hectares of territory, 23 kilometers of roads and 10 sites of historic heritage were cleared of explosives during the mission.

Aleppo, Syria's second largest city, remains divided between government forces in the west and foreign-backed terrorists in the east, making it a frontline battleground.

The Syrian army has recently advanced deep inside the longtime militant stronghold of eastern Aleppo, taking control of key neighborhoods. The government troops have managed to re-establish control over half of the areas that had been under the control of terrorists in the east of the city.

'All militants in Aleppo report to Nusra'

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that all militants fighting in eastern Aleppo are under the control of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group -- al-Qaeda's Syrian branch formerly known as al-Nusra Front -- the second most brutal Takfiri terror group ravaging Syria after Daesh.

"As I have already mentioned, according to our intelligence, practically all armed opposition groups in eastern Aleppo report to al-Nusra Front. Nusra has some 1,500 militants there, while other groups under its command have up to 6,000 militants," Lavrov added.

The Takfiri terrorist group was formed months after the outset of the Syrian crisis in March 2011. The group first enjoyed generous support from Daesh extremists, but broke from them in 2013 and paid allegiance to al-Qaeda terror network, which in late July endorsed the move as a necessary gambit to protect the group.

The foreign-backed conflict in Syria has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people, according to an estimate by UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

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