Moscow: In a painful and inhuman description of the massive humanitarian and material losses in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said that the military operation in Syria was a unique opportunity for him to test and train the Russian forces.
While making the above statement in his annual call in television show on the state television, Putin blatantly ignored how “his training and testing campaign” in Syria has killed about half a million people – a majority of them being civilians including a large number of women and children.Putin confirmed that Russia is not planning currently to withdraw all of its troops from Syria.
Russia launched its operation in Syria in 2015, tipping the war in favor of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Putin last December announced a scale-down of the Russian military presence in Syria. But, on Thursday he confirmed that Russia is not planning currently to withdraw all of its troops from Syria.
Putin said Russia “is not planning to withdraw all of its troops at this point” and that they will stay in Syria “as long as it benefits Russia.”
Moscow has sent an undisclosed number of military advisers, pilots, technical staff and military police to Syria.
In seven years, the casualties of Syria’s civil war have grown from the first handful of protesters shot by government forces to hundreds of thousands of dead. But as the war has dragged on, growing more diffuse and complex, many international monitoring groups have essentially stopped counting.
Even the United Nations, which released regular reports on the death toll during the first years of the war, gave its last estimate in 2016 — when it relied on 2014 data, in part — and said that it was virtually impossible to verify how many had died. At that time, a United Nations official said 400,000 people had been killed, according to New York Times.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had in 2017 said that Syria’s grinding war has killed over 340,000 people since it broke out in 2011, including more than 100,000 civilians. The death toll has increased as key international powers step up diplomatic efforts to bring an end to the brutal conflict, and just days before a fresh round of peace talks in Geneva.
The Observatory said it has documented 343,511 deaths between the eruption of an anti-government uprising in mid-March 2011 and the start of this month. Among them are 102,618 civilians, including nearly 19,000 children and 12,000 women.
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