Russia accused of using Syria as “live-fire training”

Mr Shoigu said there had been 71,000 Russian air strikes on “terrorists”

BBC – The US army’s commander in Europe has accused Russia of using its military campaign in Syria as a “live-fire training opportunity”.

Lt Gen Ben Hodges said Russia’s “disregard for civilian casualties… is not the conduct of a nation that wants to be treated like a superpower”.

Russia’s defence minister said on Thursday that its air force had killed 35,000 fighters in Syria.

But Russia has been accused of using heavy weapons in civilian areas. It has consistently denied targeting civilians.

Russia’s aerial intervention in the Syrian conflict last year has helped the Syrian army capture eastern Aleppo. But it has further heightened tensions with the West, after it annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said 162 types of modern armaments had been tested during the campaign in Syria, which included 18,800 aerial sorties.

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