Russian and Syrian militaries destroy militant caves in Hama province
DAMASCUS, (BM) – A combined detachment of Syrian sappers and Russian military engineers is conducting demining, as well as searching and destroying caves in the southeast of Hama province in Syria, in which members of illegal armed groups organized field headquarters, hospitals and strong points, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing TASS.
They recently discovered one of these caves near an abandoned settlement and destroyed it by blowing up.
“They had this cave as a cache, as a bomb shelter, at the same time played the role of some kind of shelter. In the daytime they hid here, at night they made sorties and reconnaissance,” – Andrey Zakharkov, the commander of a Russian engineering platoon, told reporters demonstrating the discovered cave.
In the province of Hama, terrorists have settled since the beginning of the war in Syria. For shelter, they used caves that were manually dug into soft rock near settlements. The Shelter is a system of underground tunnels that cannot be found without special means.
Inside one of them, the one found by the Russian military, you can still find traces of the militants’ presence: clothes, bandages, and packages of medicines are scattered on the ground. The goal of terrorists who use such shelters is to attack the local population, capture prisoners, and robberies. “To prevent this from happening again, the caves that are located are destroyed by detonation,” Zakharkov said.
After his words, a team of sappers is laying charges in the tunnels, and then everyone retreats to a safe distance. A command sounds over the radio and then an explosion occurs. After that, only rubble remains in place, which are no longer suitable for use. “The soil here is such that it looks more like rocky, rocky. Yes, of course, there are some difficulties in the work. First, you have to work at a depth. On top of a large layer of earth, not even earth, but these stones. And, how You can see for yourself that after the detonation there are large boulders,” the platoon commander comments after blowing up the cave.
Demining the area
Another important stage in the work of Russian military sappers together with their Syrian counterparts is the clearance of the territory. During the war, there were battles in the southeast of Hama, and after them many unexploded ordnance remained. In addition, when leaving these territories, the militants could mine buildings, and in order to prevent local residents from returning to their homes, sappers will have to carefully check the entire area.
A detachment of four people comes out to carry out this task: two soldiers of the Syrian army and two Russian soldiers. All of them are dressed in special protective kits for mine clearance, and are also “armed” with modern mine detectors.
The terrain in this area of Hama is literally stuffed with dangerous objects, and already during the first search near residential buildings, the Syrian sapper throws up his hand, which is a signal for his colleagues that an explosive object has been found. A mortar shell was found in an open area and it was decided not to take it out, but to destroy it on the spot. To do this, TNT blocks are placed next to it and detonated from a safe distance.
Result of work
A combined detachment of Russian military engineers and Syrian sappers has been working in Hama since mid-July. As reported in the office of the Center for the Reconciliation of Warring Parties (CPVS) in Syria in the province of Hama, the consolidated detachment has already conducted reconnaissance of more than 120 km of roads. The military found and destroyed 11 landmines, defused 29 minefields set by the militants, and also checked 15 settlements and camps of the nomadic population who live in Hama for mine danger.
Also, sappers destroyed 13 improvised explosive devices and blew up more than 30 caves, which the terrorists used as shelters.
Thanks to this, local residents, who had previously been forced to leave because of the militants, have already begun to return to the settlements. “Civilians began to return to the settlements in the areas returned under the control of the government forces. Thus, 20 families have already returned to the settlements of Mubattan-Tahmaz and Al-Khasau,” the CPVS office in Hama said.
In total, according to the CPVS, over 3 thousand hectares of territories, more than 3.1 thousand buildings, as well as 270 kilometers of roads have been cleared throughout Syria. During the work of sappers in the country, more than 37.6 thousand explosive objects were discovered and destroyed, 5.4 thousand of which were improvised explosive devices.
War in Syria
In February, Turkey lost at least 62 troops killed in Syria, nearly 100 soldiers were wounded, dozens of Turkish armored vehicles were destroyed and more than ten drones, including drone, were shot down. Washington has repeatedly accused Moscow of involvement in the deaths of Turkish soldiers, Russia rejects these allegations.
In early March, the presidents of Russia and Turkey, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, concluded an agreement according to which a ceasefire came into force in the Idlib de-escalation zone.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad later said that if the US and Turkish military did not leave the country, Damascus would be able to use force.
The reason for the Russian-Turkish negotiations was a sharp aggravation of the situation in Idlib, where in January a large-scale offensive by the Syrian army against the positions of the armed opposition and terrorists began.
Government forces recaptured nearly half of the Idlib de-escalation zone and left behind a number of Turkish observation posts. After that, Ankara sharply increased its military contingent in the region and launched the operation “Spring Shield” to push the Syrian troops. Turkey is also supported by militants loyal to it.
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