The chief of the Russian General Staff said Russia aims to eliminate the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front in Syria in 2018.
In an interview to Russia’s Komsomolskaya Pravda daily on Wednesday, General Valery Gerasimov said that next year’s developments in Syria will include "the completion of eliminating terrorists from Nusra Front and its affiliates."
"Some members of this terrorist organization operate in de-escalation zones," he continued. “Nurse Front fiercely opposes [the cease-fire]. Therefore, they must be eliminated."
According to Gerasimov, Nusra terrorists mainly operate in Syria’s Idlib Province.
"I think that they will be done with after a while," he said.
Citing data obtained by aerial surveillance, the general also said the US is hosting training camps for terror groups in Syria, including Daesh terrorists.
The US forces have effectively turned their military base near the town of Al-Tanf in southeastern Syria into a terrorists’ training camp, Gerasimov said.
“According to satellite and other surveillance data, terrorist squads are stationed there. They are effectively training there,” Gerasimov said, when asked about what’s going on at the base.
The general also said the US has been using a refugee camp in northeast Syria, outside the town of Al-Shaddadah in Al-Hasakah Province, as a training camp for Daesh, including those evacuated from Raqqa, and other terrorist groups.
“This is essentially Daesh,” Gerasimov said. “They change their colors, take different names – the 'New Syrian Army' and others. They are tasked with destabilizing the situation.”
Some 400 terrorists left Al-Shaddadah for Al-Tanf, launching an offensive on the Syrian forces from the eastern bank of Euphrates, after the main Daesh terrorists were routed there, Gerasimov said.
The Al-Tanf base is located within the 55km “de-confliction” buffer zone.
At the moment, there are about 750 terrorists in Al-Shaddadah and 350 in Al-Tanf on the Syrian-Jordanian border, according to Gerasimov, who said the Russian military has been watching the training at the Al-Tanf base for some time.
“The most important is that we have been seeing the militants advancing from there for several months. When the control [of the Syrian forces] loosened, as many as 350 terrorists left the area,” Gerasimov said, noting that the nearby town of Al-Qaryatayn was under threat of being captured by the terrorists had the Russian forces not repelled the offensive.
“We took timely measures…they have suffered a defeat, these forces were destroyed. There were captives from these camps. It is clear that training is underway at those camps,” he added.
It’s not the first time that Russia has pointed out to Washington that terrorists holed up inside the buffer zone have been staging attacks on Syrian forces. In October, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov called the base a 100km wide “black hole” created with US help on the Syrian border.
TASS and rt.com contributed to this story.