A high-profile Russian military figure says the country’s air force has stopped all airstrikes in Syria to help secure a ceasefire brokered by Moscow and Washington and avoid any “bombing mistakes.”
“From today at 00:00 (22:00 GMT) and in accordance with the agreements reached between the United States and the Russian Federation, who jointly chair the International Syrian Support Group, the aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces has ceased all airstrikes in the green zone,” Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoi, chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, told reporters on Saturday.
He added that the corresponding orders were issued to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu immediately after the announcement by President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Putin.
“On February 23, the Syrian army declared that they have agreed to stop military action, in accordance with the US-Russia deal. Seventeen armed units addressed the command of the Hmeimim air base, and signed the application sheets, also pledging to respect the ceasefire,” Rudskoi said.
The ceasefire agreement in Syria entered into force at midnight amid hopes the truce will lead to an end of nearly five years of war.
Rudskoi went on to say that Russia is using 70 drones along with satellites and other intelligence means to monitor the situation in Syria.
The senior military official further noted that the Russian military had established hotlines to exchange information with the US military in order to help monitor the ceasefire, and quickly respond to any conflict situations.
Rudskoi said Russia has given the US maps showing the location of militant groups pledging to abide by the ceasefire as well as Daesh and al-Nusra Front units. He said 74 opposition units have agreed to adhere to the truce.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Sergei Kuralenko, head of Russia's coordination center at the Hmeimim air base in Syria, announced that 61 Russian officers are working there.
He added that the center’s “main goals are to help seal the special ceasefire deals, and to sustain ceasefire with the armed groups’ leaders, and to deliver humanitarian aid to the population.”
The foreign-sponsored conflict in Syria, which flared in March 2011, has claimed the lives of some 470,000 people and left 1.9 million injured, according to the Syrian Center for Policy Research.