Russia has converted more than 200 people, killed in Idlib Province in the past 12 days by Russian and regime airstrikes, into more than 2,000 “terrorists”.

Amid a series of misleading statements on Saturday, Russia tried to obscure the civilian sites that it has attacked in opposition-held Idlib in northwest Syria since September 19. The Defense Ministry conflated the operations with strikes on the Islamic State in eastern Syria, amid a pro-Assad offensive in Deir ez-Zor Province that has tried to cope with an ISIS counter-attack since last Thursday.

The Ministry asserted that Russia’s bombings had killed 2,359 “militants” with a further 2,700 wounded. It said 16 field commanders and more than 400 citizens from the former USSR are among the casualties.

The strikes “helped repel counter-offensives by militants in the provinces of Idlib and Deir ez-Zor”, the Ministry said — an unusual statement, given that there have been no rebel attacks in Idlib Province.

Instead, Russia and the regime used the pretext of operations by rebels and the jihadists of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in neighboring northern Hama Province on September 19 to launch the airstrikes, maintaining the assault throughout the next 12 days.

Last Monday, more than 40 civilians were killed by bombing and shelling. Another 28 were reportedly killed early Saturday.

“We Helped Assad Gain 85% of Syria”

Russia also celebrated the second anniversary of its military intervention, in which thousands of civilians have been killed, with proclamations that the Assad regime is near “victory”.

The Defense Ministry said that pro-Assad forces now control 85% of Syrian territory.

The Ministry did not mention that Bashar al-Assad’s control of his people is far less extensive. More than 5 million of Syria’s pre-war population of 22 million are refugees. More than 5 million others remain displaced, many of them living in opposition-held or Kurdish-controlled areas.

More than 2 million of the 17 million remaining in Syria are in Idlib Province alone. Other civilians are in northern Aleppo Province and parts of the south under opposition authority, and many others are in Kurdish areas across north and northeast Syria taken from the Islamic State.

“Britain is Insignificant”

The Defense Ministry also showed a flash of anger over British claims of its role in the fight against the Islamic State.

The Ministry’s spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said the UK’s efforts are “insignificant”.

Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, marking the third anniversary of British aerial operations against ISIS in Syria, gave a series of media interviews last week hailing London’s contribution to the US-led coalition in Iraq as well as the Syrian conflict.

Konashenkov snapped:

While the Syrian forces, supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces, were fighting to defeat ISIS in Syria, it suddenly emerged that during all these years UK Secretary of State for Defense Michael Fallon has been helping us destroy terrorists behind our backs.

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