Russian general killed fighting ISIL in Syria
MOSCOWA Russian general was killed while battling Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants near the eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor, Moscow’s defense ministry has said.
“Division general Valeri Assapov was killed when a shell exploded during shelling by ISIL fighters,” the ministry was quoted as saying by local media, adding that the officer was serving as an advisor to Syrian government troops.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Segei Ryabkov said yesterday that the death of the general was “ a result of two-faced U.S. policies,” adding that Moscow is concerned by U.S. attitude towards ISIL in Syria and questioned its desire to destroy the group.
Deir Ezzor province, on Syria’s eastern border with Iraq, is rich with oil and gas fields that served as a key revenue stream for ISIL at the peak of its power.
Russia intervened in support of the Damascus government in September 2015 and has been assisting regime forces in an assault on Deir Ezzor from the west.
According to RT, Lieutenant General Valery Asapov is the highest-ranking Russian officer to be killed in the Syrian campaign. He was a commander of the 5th Army in Russia’s Eastern Military District, one of the four strategic commands in the Russian Armed Forces, RT said.
Born in 1966, Asapov enrolled in the Soviet Air Force and by 1987 had achieved the rank of lieutenant, RT reported.
Deployed to Grozny during the First Chechen campaign, Asapov was wounded in the leg, leaving him with a permanent limp. In the early 2000s, he was given command of a parachute regiment in the Russian peacekeeping forces in Abkhazia before being dispatched to the Kuril Islands in the Russian Far East in 2006.
In 2013, he was presented with the prestigious Order of Merit for the Fatherland by President Vladimir Putin, RT said.