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Defense ministry reports Islamic State field commanders killed in Russia's airstrike

December 30, 2015, 14:54 UTC+3
Representatives of the patriotic opposition forces provided information about the site of the IS militant leaders’ gathering
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© TASS

MOSCOW, December 30. /TASS/. Russia’s Sukhoi Su-34 warplane has launched an airstrike in the area of the Syrian city of Raqqa destroying a building where militants’ ringleaders gathered for a meeting, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov reported on Wednesday.

According to him, the Russian side received information that field commanders of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group planned a meeting on the outskirts of the city of Raqqa from representatives of a Syrian opposition group acting in the country’s northeast. After that the Russian side organised round-the-clock aerial monitoring of that area.

The official said that representatives of the patriotic opposition forces provided information about the site of the IS militant leaders’ gathering.

"The Sukhoi Su-34 plane launched an airstrike at the building in which the militants’ ringleaders gathered for a meeting after the relevant information was confirmed. The building with all the contents was destroyed as a result of a direct hit of a guided bomb," the defense spokesman said.

Russian planes attack over 420 terrorist targets in 2 days

According to the spokesman, Russian planes made over 120 sorties in two days and attacked more than 420 terrorist targets in Syria.

Konashenkov said "424 facilities in the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Lattakia, Hamaa, Homs, Damascus, Daraa and Deir al-Zour had been attacked from December 28."

The official also noted a Russian Su-34 bomber has destroyed a hangar with military hardware and weapons depots at a large base of the Islamic State terrorist group in the Syrian province of Homs.

"The Su-34 bomber has delivered a strike against a large base of the IS militants on the outskirts of the town of Mheen in the Homs province. The direct strike destroyed a hangar with military hardware, as well as depots with terrorists’ arms, ammunition and supplies," Konashenkov said.

The airstrike also destroyed five off-road vehicles with large-caliber machine-guns, an infantry fighting vehicle and four trucks loaded with ammunition, the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said.

Also, a Russian Su-25 attack aircraft destroyed a terrorists’ stronghold in the Aleppo province, Konashenkov said.

"The direct strikes destroyed a tank and three cross-country vehicles with heavy armaments mounted on them," he said.

Moreover, the air group in Syria has wiped out a large munitions warehouse of the Jabhat al-Nusra group.

"Several days ago one of the patriotically-minded Syrian opposition groups operating in Idlib province shared information with us about the location of a large munitions warehouse of the Jabhat al-Nusra group near Zerba. After examining aerial images and conducting additional reconnaissance with the use of drones a Sukhoi-24M bomber was directed to the target. Impartial monitoring means has confirmed the target was destroyed," Konashenkov said.

Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry said more than once that "patriotically minded opposition" members were sharing with the Russian military the locations of terrorists in Syria. The policy of involving opposition forces in fighting against the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra (both organizations are outlawed in Russia) was "bearing fruit," the Defense Ministry said to promise to provide further support for the offensive by government troops and opposition forces.

According to the Russian General Staff’s estimates more than 150 opposition groups are participating in operations against terrorists in Syria.

Russian military operation in Syria

Russia’s Aerospace Forces launched a military operation in Syria on September 30 after the Federation Council unanimously approved President Vladimir Putin’s request for the use of the armed forces against terrorists outside the territory of Russia. On the same day, Russia’s aviation group started to deliver the first pinpointed airstrikes against the militants’ positions. The Russian aviation grouping comprises more than 50 aircraft and helicopters, including the Sukhoi Su-34 and Su-24M bombers, Su-25 attack aircraft, Su-30SM fighters and Mil Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters. Also, overnight to October 7, the Caspian Flotilla ships delivered a massive strike on the IS objectives in Syria, using Kalibr NK shipborne cruise missiles.

From November 17, the Russian aviation group in Syria switched to delivering massive strikes against militants, including with the involvement of strategic bombers. As the Russian Defense Ministry reported, Russia’s air grouping has focused on destroying terrorist-controlled oil extraction, storage, transportation and refining facilities.

The airstrikes are conducted at the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Russian authorities have said on many occasions that Russia’s armed forces would not take part in any ground operation in Syria. The time limit of the operation will depend on the results of the fight against the Islamic State group, which is banned as a terrorist organisation in Russia.

The General Staff reports that over 150 units of the opposition are fighting IS in Syria - besides the government forces. The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed it may support the "patriotic" opposition. Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov said previously the Russian Air Force delivers daily 30-40 airstrikes in support of the opposition.

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