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Report to the President on mine clearing work in the historical area of Palmyra

April 21, 2016, The Kremlin, Moscow

Vladimir Putin, via videoconference, heard a report from the head of the Russian Armed Forces Engineering Corps on operations to clear mines from the world cultural heritage site of Palmyra, which was liberated by the Syrian army with support from Russia’s Aerospace forces.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,

Since early April, the Russian Defence Ministry’s Engineering Corps have been carrying out a large-scale operation to clear mines from the historic part of Palmyra, which was liberated by the Syrian army with support from Russia’s Aerospace Forces.

Much work has been done to defuse mines of various types and other explosive devices in the historic part of the town. There is still much work ahead to clear mines from facilities and communications in the residential part of the town.

I would like you to report on the current state of progress and on your upcoming plans.

Chief of the Armed Forces Engineers Lieutenant General Yury Stavitsky: Comrade Supreme Commander in Chief,

Pursuant to your decision, since April 2, Russia’s Engineering units have been engaged in mine clearing work at Palmyra, which was liberated from ISIS terrorists.

To carry out this mission, military transport planes deployed to Syria a mine clearing detachment from the Russian Armed Forces mine-clearing centre. In order to increase security and speed up the pace of work, we are also using Uran-6 mobile robot systems and mine-sniffing dogs.

Comrade Supreme Commander in Chief, we have fully completed mine clearing work in the historical part of Palmyra. A total 234 hectares of territory were cleared of explosive devices, as well as 23 kilometres of roads, and 10 historical heritage sites; 2,991 explosive devices were located and defused, including 432 homemade explosive devices.

The work was complicated by the high density of mines and the fact that the fighters used powerful landmines controlled by radio and wires, many of which were installed in such a way as to be impossible to remove.

Our units are now clearing mines in the residential part of the town and at the airport. They have inspected 367 buildings, 40 hectares of territory, 9.5 kilometres of roads, and have destroyed 1,432 explosive devices. The mine clearing work continues in accordance with the approved plan.

A total 560 hectares of urban area still remain to be cleared of mines and unexploded munitions. This work is complicated by the large number of decoy mines the fighters laid. Training is being organised for mine clearance experts from the Syrian army’s engineers.

Furthermore, field water supply has been set up for the drinking water needs of the engineers, military personnel, and the civilians returning to Palmyra.

A field hospital has also been set up and started operation. Construction of living quarters for the UNESCO assessment and restoration group has been completed. We are helping the Syrian engineers engaged in mine clearing in the town of El Karatien and restoration of normal life there. Infrastructure facilities in the town are being rebuilt and 98 families have returned to their homes.

This ends my report.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you, Mr Savitsky. How many personnel do you have there?

Yury Stavitsky: Currently, we have 98 servicemen engaged in the mine clearing.

Vladimir Putin: Do you have any questions, requests, wishes?

Yury Stavitsky: The service personnel are ready to carry out all your instructions, Mr Commander in Chief.

Vladimir Putin: Please convey my gratitude to all of the servicemen – the officers, soldiers, and the support services. Thank you very much. I wish you good luck.

April 21, 2016, The Kremlin, Moscow