Russian fighter jets hit 118 Syrian targets in past 24 hours

Published October 29th, 2015 - 08:30 GMT
Russian authorities said they hit 118 "terrorist" positions across Syria in 24 hours. (AFP/File)
Russian authorities said they hit 118 "terrorist" positions across Syria in 24 hours. (AFP/File)

Russian warplanes struck 118 “terrorist” targets in Syria over the past 24 hours, its highest daily total yet, the Defense Ministry said Wednesday, attributing the rise to fresh intelligence.

Russian jets hit 118 targets during 71 sorties over the provinces of Idlib, Homs, Hama, Aleppo, Damascus and Latakia, the Defense Ministry said. It was the highest one-day tally since the Kremlin began its bombing campaign on Sept. 30.

The previous record was set Monday when Moscow said it had struck 94 “terrorist” targets in Syria.

“The number of sorties has gone up,” the ministry said in a statement. “This is due to an increase in intelligence data,” he said, adding that targets had been “confirmed via various channels.”

The strikes destroyed a command post near the town of Talbisseh in Homs province that belonged to the Al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front, said the ministry.

Among the other targets was a base in Aleppo province used to control a “terrorist” weapon supply route which was “destroyed,” along with the vehicle-mounted anti-aircraft systems that were protecting it, it said.

In Sahl al-Ghab valley, which lies between the provinces of Hama and Idlib, the warplanes hit a “camouflaged supply base,” causing an explosion that also destroyed trucks parked some 500 meters away.

Russian forces also hit a command and communications post of Jaish al-Islam group near Misraba, a town northeast of Damascus, and “completely destroyed” a command post in Salma, Latakia, after discovering it with unmanned aerial vehicles.

Moscow says its bombing campaign targets ISIS militants and other “terrorists” but the United States and its allies accuse Russia of targeting Western-backed moderate rebels fighting Kremlin-backed President Bashar Assad’s forces.

Meanwhile, the United States said Tuesday that it’s considering sending a small number of special operations forces to Syria and attack helicopters to Iraq as it weighs options to build momentum in the battle against ISIS.

President Barack Obama, deeply averse to over-committing American troops to unpopular wars in the Middle East, could view some of the options as more viable than others as he approaches the final stretch of his presidency.

Still, Obama’s administration is under pressure to ramp up America’s effort, particularly after the fall of the Iraqi city of Ramadi to ISIS in May and the failure of a US military program to train and arm thousands of Syrian rebels.

Two US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said any deployments would be narrowly tailored, seeking to advance specific, limited military objectives in both Iraq and Syria.

That option includes temporarily deploying some US special operations forces inside of Syria to advise moderate Syrian opposition fighters for the first time and, potentially, to help call in US airstrikes, one official said.

Other possibilities including sending a small number of Apache attack helicopters, and US forces to operate them, to Iraq, as well as taking steps to bolster other Iraqi capabilities needed to claw back territory from ISIS.

Assad renewed Wednesday his accusation that Western states including France are supporting “terrorist” groups in his country’s conflict by giving them “political cover,” at a meeting with a French parliamentary delegation.

Syrian authorities classify all opponents of the regime as terrorists.

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