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Russian aircraft strike at 6 Islamic State oil production facilities in Syria — ministry

December 30, 2015, 20:12 UTC+3 MOSCOW
In mid-November, the Russian military said they would concentrate airstrikes on the facilities of production, storage, transportation and processing of oil, controlled by the Islamic State
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Airstrike against an IS-controlled oil storage facility in Syria by Russian Aerospace Force

Airstrike against an IS-controlled oil storage facility in Syria by Russian Aerospace Force

© Russian Defense Ministry's Press and Information Department/TASS

MOSCOW, December 30. /TASS/. Russia’s aviation has destroyed over the past two days six militants’ illegal oil production facilities in the Syrian provinces of Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor, as well as bombed more than 20 tanker trucks, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Wednesday.

"The Russian aviation group has destroyed over the past two days six illegal oil production facilities of militants in the provinces of Deir ez-Zor and Aleppo," he said.

In addition, he said, Russia’s Sukhoi Su-34 bomber has delivered a strike on a group of tank trucks that were moving towards the border with Turkey in the area of Kfar Nebel in the Idlib province. "The bombing strike destroyed more than 20 tank trucks used by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group for the smuggling of oil to Turkey, as well as two jeeps with mounted ZU-23 air defense gun systems," the official said.

In mid-November, the Russian military said they would concentrate airstrikes on the facilities of production, storage, transportation and processing of oil, controlled by the Islamic State. According to the Defense Ministry, the terrorists have about 8,500 tank trucks at their disposal. Meanwhile, since the beginning of the operation in Syria, Russian aircraft have destroyed about 2,000 petrol tankers, Chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the Russian Army General Staff Sergey Rudskoy reported last week.

According to Rudskoy, Russian aircraft have attacked 556 terrorist targets in eight provinces of Syria over the past three days. "Since December 25, 164 sorties have been flown and 556 terrorist targets have been attacked in the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Latakia, Hama, Homs, Damascus, Deir al-Zor and al-Raqqa," Rudskoi told a briefing on Tuesday.

He said that Russian aircraft increased the rate of attacks in support of the Syrian governmental and opposition forces fighting the Islamic State terrorist group.

According to the General Staff, Russian planes delivered 189 strikes against terrorists in Syria on December 24. As of December 25, they had logged over 5,200 sorties since the beginning of the operation, with about 150 of them conducted by strategic and long-range bombers.

The Syrian Army continues to advance throughout the country, with its progress being most noticeable in Aleppo and Latakia provinces and in the suburbs of Damascus. "Supported by the Russian Aerospace Force, the governmental forces continue their offensive on the militants throughout the country, having attained success in the provinces of Aleppo and Latakia and on the outskirts of Damascus," Rudskoi said.

Over the last several days, the Syrian Army has liberated two settlements and seized a commanding height in Aleppo province with Russian aircraft’s support. According to Rudskoi, the Syrian troops expanded the security zone around Kweiris airbase considerably. "Over the past several days, two settlements north of the airfield have been liberated and a commanding height, Tall Sherbia, has been seized," the general said.

The Syrian forces broke the blockade of Kweiris airbase in early November. The base encircled by IS terrorists had fought back for over two years.

The Syrian troops supported by Russian aircraft assumed control of the left bank of the al-Kebir River from the Syrian-Turkish border to the town of Soraf and seized three commanding heights in Latakia province. "Now, they control the left bank of the al-Kebir River from the Syrian-Turkish border to the town of Soraf. Three commanding heights have been seized near Kbana and Sirmaniya," Rudskoi said. He added that Syrian Army assault elements had been advancing northward and eastward.

Russian aircraft have supported the offensive of the Syrian opposition forces against al-Raqqa that is regarded as a capital of the Islamic State.

"An offensive has been launched in other directions as well. With Russian air support, the detachments of the Syrian Democratic Army led by Aiman Flyat al-Ganim are advancing on IS’ capital al-Raqqa," Rudskoi said. In addition, he noted, the Syrian government forces continue active operations in the Eastern Ghouta district.

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 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.

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 might 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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