On February 23, Russian President Vladimir Putin had a meeting with the officers of Russia’s Northern Fleet, during which he talked about the aims of Russian military activities in Syria.
“You have performed the tasks assigned to you and have inflicted significant damage upon the international terrorist groups, their stations, weapons storages, ammunition, equipment, infrastructure. And this has certainly contributed to the efforts of all the countries which take part in the fight against international terrorism, in Syrian Arab Republic, in this case. And it has contributed to creating conditions for continuing peaceful negotiations between the Syrian Government and the armed opposition”, Putin particularly said during the aforementioned meeting.
Note, however, that Russia’s actions in Syria are not that simple. On December 11, 2016, the Islamic State retook the ancient city of Palmyra from Syrian government troops, the liberation of which had been considered Russia’s greatest achievement during the Syrian conflict. Islamists commenced their attack on 8 December and, in fact, took Palmyra in three days, while it had required enormous efforts from Russia and Syria to recapture the historic city in March 2016.
It is noteworthy that the recapture of Palmyra by IS took place at a time when the Syrian army was waging fierce battles with the moderate opposition and taking control of new districts in Aleppo. In other words, the Syrian troops were mainly concentrated in Aleppo, which can explain the fact why Islamists did not meet any serious resistance near Palmyra.
Thus, it can be said that the Russian Air Force, as well as the Syrian army, concentrated their efforts in Aleppo, where they fought against the moderate opposition.
Obviously, these facts, among others, allow us to doubt the authenticity of statements of the President of Russia and consider them as yet another official veil used to cover up the real mission of Russian troops in Syria.