ISIL in Syria Uses Mosques as Shelters, Civilians as Shields
Militants of the so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL) takfiri group are hiding in mosques and using locals as human shields because they know that Russian jets would never target civilian areas, the Russian Defense Ministry revealed at two briefings on Tuesday.
“ISIL forces are sheltering in mosques and trying to hide their vehicles around them, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov told reporters Tuesday, citing video evidence.
“Knowing our careful, respectful attitude to mosques they understand that we would never – under any circumstances – carry out airstrikes against civilian facilities,” he said, following a meeting with Defense press attachés from several countries, with a US representative among them.
Later in the day, Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, also warned that terrorists may be preparing provocations such as bombing mosques to accuse the Russian Air Force of committing war crimes.
“As this example clearly shows, ‘moderate rebels’ would not hide behind civilians as human shields or, moreover, concentrate armored vehicles under the arches of religious institutions. All of these actions can only be the calling card of terrorists,” the Ministry of Defense commented on the issued video.
Antonov also emphasized that Russia uses data from space and air surveillance – not only information gathered from the Syrian Army.
“We check the data a hundred times. Our decisions are well balanced, deliberate and calculated. We carry out airstrikes only if we are 100 percent sure that we are hitting the right target,” Antonov said.
Moscow launched its military operation against ISIL and other terrorist groups at the request of the Syrian government on September 30 and has already targeted a number of the ISIL infrastructure units hitting command centers, ammunition depots and explosive production sites, among others.