About the participation of Russian advisers in the preparation of plans for the defense of Damascus, Reuters learned from interviews conducted over the past two months with sources representing both warring parties. In particular, asirijskie military sources, helping government troops, said the Russians proposed to weaken the rebels in the South of the country between the capital and the border with Jordan that they could not take significant offensive.
Pro-government sources in the Agency claimed that Russian advisers assisted in the conclusion of a series of ceasefires in Damascus countryside, to create around the capital. According to the Syrian Minister for national reconciliation Ali Haidar, the Russians play the role of mediators in some areas, and come in contact with the rebels there, where they have the opportunity.
The Minister explained that sometimes the rebels themselves require that the role of intermediaries was made by the Russians to ensure safe passage to other areas or to protect from from violence after the cessation of resistance.
Another source said that the agreement on safe passage was with the Islamists, after their departure, the government could make a deal with the remaining rebels. “The Russians want all the battles took place in the North, they want the South, Damascus and the coast remained neutral territories. In the end, they are working to achieve broader political solution,” — said the Agency interlocutor.
Two military source, not the Syrians, but fighting together with the Syrian army, said that Russian officers and military experts helped to plan the offensive in Latakia and led the offensive in this area. The news Agency claimed that the Russians opened artillery cover, and not only launched air strikes.
Source Reuters in the Syrian army, which the Agency managed to speak in Damascus last week, said that the Russians are partners, but not in charge of the operations. “The Russians are involved in planning actions on the ground and in the air, but in the end, it was the Syrian officers have better knowledge of the country, where the front line, and indeed the local geography”, — said the Agency interlocutor.
The Russian defense Ministry did not respond to written questions to this material, told Reuters, without revealing their essence.
On the night of 12 February, the participants of the International support group Syria, among them Russia, the US and Turkey agreed during the week to secure a truce between the warring parties, except terrorist groups.
On 15 February, the representatives of the organization “Doctors without borders” reported that in the bombing of a hospital in the town of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province were killed and wounded. Syrian human rights activists say an airstrike struck Russian planes. Today, however, Turkish sources said the shelling of the Russian side of the hospital in the city of a’zaz in Northern Syria.