Gripen combat aircraft - borbeni avion.jpg
Photograph: en.wikipedia.org

Russia's air force will continue bombing UN-designated terrorist organizations Islamic State and al-Nusra Front in Syria, General Sergei Rudskoi said Friday in comments carried by state news agency TASS.

Earlier this week, President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military to withdraw the majority of its forces from Syria, saying their task had been "completely fulfilled."

"I want to emphasize that Russia's air force will continue to conduct airstrikes against the terrorist organizations Islamic State and al-Nusra Front in Syrian territory," said Rudskoi, head of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

A ceasefire brokered by Russia and the United States has been in effect in Syria since last month. The deal does not include organizations designated as terrorists by the United Nations.

Rudskoi told reporters that there have been about 250 violations of the ceasefire since it went in effect on February 27.

Rudskoi also said Russia has helped supply hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid to more than 100 population centres in Syria.

Russia began a bombing campaign in Syria six months ago to provide support to the country's president, Bashar al-Assad, a longtime ally.

Al-Assad's military has regained significant territory with Russia's help. Russia has said that the main purpose of its campaign in Syria has been to stamp out terrorism and restore stability in the country.

Putin said Thursday that Russia wants to avoid a re-escalation of its military effort in Syria, but could rebuild its forces within "just a few hours" if needed.

Putin said Russia's military campaign in Syria has cost 33 billion roubles (480 million dollars).

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