The Russian warships operating in the Mediterranean can be used in the fight against ISIL in Syria, if need be, Colonel-General Andrei Kartapolov, head of the Main Operations Directorate of the Russian General Staff, said in an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.
"Our group in the Mediterranean primarily supplies materials. For this to go unhampered, a group of attack vessels is deployed there as well. In addition, this group guarantees our base's air defense. We are in no way using these air defense systems against coalition countries," he said.
Kartapolov stressed that there are no Russian officers in the ranks of the Syrian Army.
“Our group is operating on its own and we have a small operations group from the Syrian Armed Forces at our headquarters in Syria that provides coordination of flights with the Syrian Air Force and gives us exact information of where front line of the government troops is,” he said.
Prior to its air operation against ISIL in Syria Russia established an information center in Baghdad to share intelligence with Iraq, Syria and Iran. According to Kartapolov, Russia invited the US to cooperate, but the Americans never responded to this invitation.
“They are unlikely to have enough information on ISIL facilities, and the results of their airstrikes bear witness to that. They have a vague understanding of where the militants’ objects really are and it probably embarrasses them to admit that,” Kartapolov said.
Russia started precision airstrikes against ISIL targets in Syria on September 30, following a request from Syria's internationally recognized government. The Russian airstrikes hit targets that are chosen based on intelligence collected by Russia, Syria, Iraq and Iran.