Russian general praises Syria's air defences

Moscow: The Syrian armed forces have effective air-defence systems that can fend off massive air strikes against the country, a top Russian military official said.

"Syria's air-defence system is a no-nonsense force. As a result, no one has ever used serious air combat power against it," Ground Forces Air Defense commander Maj. Gen. Alexander Leonov said in an interview with radio Ekho Moskvy.

Syria's air defence systems are a primary target for the insurgents, he added.

Earlier, Syria's opposition coalition reiterated its condemnation of the Russian government's policy and position on political and military support for President Bashar al-Assad's regime but denied it has declared "open season" on Russian nationals.

The UN estimates that nearly 40,000 Syrians have died since the violence began in March 2011.