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01 november 2016

Analyst says Russian air strikes in Syria cause 70% slump in militants’ oil trafficking

Vitaly Naumkin Director of the RAS Institute for Oriental Studies, RAS Full Member, RIAC member

Russia’s air strikes in Syria have caused a 70% slump in militants’ trafficking in crude oil and oil products, the science doyen of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Oriental Studies Institute, Vitaly Naumkin, said on Wednesday.

"More than 300 facilities involved in the illegal production and transportation of oil and oil products have been eliminated (by Russia’s aerospace group)," said Naumkin, a senior political adviser to the UN Secretary General’s envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura.

According to his estimates, the amount of oil products the militants produce to keep the Islamic State (terrorist organization outlawed in Russia) going has been down by 70%.

"Who else has achieved a result like this?" he asked, adding that the statistics illustrating the effectiveness of the Russian air group’s operation were a product of the Oriental Studies Institute’s own research.

Jabhat al-Nusra controls moderate opposition in Syria

According to the analyst, Jabhat al-Nusra (the terrorist group outlawed in Russia) holds control over units of armed opposition in Syria owing to the presence of its militants in those detachments.

"Some people, who used to fight there and then left, told me each ‘moderate’ unit numbered 500 fighters, with 50-60 out of them being al-Nusra followers," said Naumkin, who is also a senior adviser to UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. "They control the situation, oversee how the fighting is going on and to break away from this control is impossible."

"Jabhat al-Nusra reigns in Syria and does not let the people out," he said. "I am afraid that a similar situation may emerge in Mosul and it will be difficult for the Americans to seek liberation of the city."

Media campaign against Russia

The analyst said current media campaign against Russia over Syria stems from the successful national reconciliation process in that country.

"Today we can see that the West has unleashed a hysterical campaign over alleged war crimes which our country and the Bashar Assad regime are said to have committed. This must be brought to an end, we are told," said Naumkin, a senior political adviser to the UN Secretary General’s envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura. "But what is the cause of this hysteria and what can explain its timing?"

Naumkin agrees that the fratricidal conflict in Syria is continuing and differences among regional and global powers over the Syrian conflict remain.

"But the underlying reason is the process of national reconciliation in Syria is already underway, and this process is the prime goal of Russia’s foreign policy regarding the intra-Syrian conflict, alongside the elimination of terrorists," Naumkin said.

He recalled that Russia’s center for reconciliation in Syria and the Syrian Ministry for National Reconciliation Affairs had managed to achieve the termination of hostilities in 842 communities and persuade 3,700 militants to lay down weapons.

Terrorists’ losses in Syria reach 18,000

Naumkin went on to say that about 18,000 foreign terrorists from more than 80 countries have been killed over five years of the armed conflict in Syria, including as a result of the Russian air task force’s operations.

"About 18,000 people - these are the losses among foreign mercenaries fighting on the side of terrorist groupings," according to Naumkin.

"Among them, there are citizens of more than 80 states," he added.

"So, this international bandit force is also sustaining considerable losses, including thanks to the operations of the Russian air task force," he said.

According to the Russian scientists’ data, there are about 24,000 militants from among Syrian citizens that aligned with terrorist formations and were killed.

"The losses of the Syrian army and pro-government militia have amounted to 45,000 people from a total force of 105,000. Also 36,000 civilians have been killed. Moreover, most of them were killed by jihadists.

Source: TASS

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Vitaly Naumkin, “Analyst says Russian air strikes in Syria cause 70% slump in militants’ oil trafficking,” Russian International Affairs Council, 01 November 2016, http://russiancouncil.ru/en/inner/?id_4=8307

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