Russia says more than 300 troops helping Syria recover from earthquake

Russian military take part in rescue operation after earthquake in Latakia region
A still image from video, released by Russia's Defence Ministry, shows people including Russian military personnel involved in a search and rescue operation after a devastating earthquake in the region of Latakia, Syria, in this image taken from handout footage released February 7, 2023. Russian Defence Ministry/Handout via REUTERS

Feb 14 (Reuters) - More than 300 Russian servicemen and 60 units of special military equipment are helping Syria in its response to a devastating earthquake that struck more than a week ago, Russia's defence ministry said on Tuesday.

The 7.8 magnitude Feb. 6 quake and aftershocks killed more than 37,000 in Turkey and Syria and the death toll looked set to keep rising with almost no chances of rescuers finding any more survivors in the rubble.

"Servicemen of the Russian group of forces continue to carry out activities to clear rubble and eliminate the consequences of earthquakes," the defence ministry said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app, referring to Russian forces stationed in Syria.

"More than 300 servicemen and 60 units of military and special equipment have been involved in the work."

Food packages and disinfectants as well as other essentials had also been delivered to humanitarian aid points in the northwestern city of Aleppo, the ministry added.

The Kremlin said on Monday that it was in contact with Syrian authorities over providing relief to areas affected.

Russia, which backs Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, has been a dominant military force in Syria since launching air strikes and ground operations there in 2015. It further asserted its presence after the United States pulled out its forces in 2019.

Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Robert Birsel

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