According to Russian language Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily, Russia intends redeploying Ka-52 advanced combat helicopters and Su-25 warplanes to be part of current operations to liberate Palmyra for a second time from ISIS.
Izvestia said redeployment aims “to compensate for the lack of Syrian artillery strike capabilities (in the area), as well as to provide support to government forces advancing on Palmyra.”
Aviapanorama magazine’s Vladimir Popov said “(u)sing its state-of-the-art sighting and navigation equipment, the Ka-52s will transmit more accurate information about the (enemy) targets due to be bombed by the Su-25s.”
“It is impossible to use carpet bombing in such historically important locations, which must be preserved rather than destroyed at any cost. At the same time, it necessary to liberate the city as quickly as possible, so it is very important to work with surgical precision when conducting pin-point strikes.”
On Friday, Putin’s International Cultural Cooperation representative Mikhail Shvydkoi said “(w)hat is happening (in Palmyra) is outrageous barbarity, and it is horrible that we have no instruments to stop it, except real military actions.”
In December, ISIS terrorists (with US-led Western and regional support) recaptured the city it earlier seized in May 2015. Last March, Syrian forces retook it, only to lose it again months later.
At yearend, it was learned ISIS destroyed the facade of Palmyra’s Roman Theater and Tetrapylon architectural complex, the amount of latter destruction unknown so far.
Liberating the city again must be completed before demining operations can begin and an assessment made of the amount of further destruction and damage.
The city is a UNESCO World Heritage site, an important ancient world cultural center, its architecture and artifacts too precious to lose. Considerable effort will be made to salvage what’s possible and begin restoration when undertaking it is safe.
Separately, Sergey Lavrov said peace talks scheduled for February 8 in Geneva were postponed until month’s end, no date chosen so far.
He blamed pro-Western UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura. He’s part of the problem, not the solution, Lavrov saying “passivity of our counterparts at the UN who did not hold any talks since April is unacceptable.”