Russia targets ISIS in new airstrikes

2015-10-02 19:22
ISIS members (File, AP)

ISIS members (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Beirut - Russian aircraft have launched new airstrikes against the Islamic State extremist militia (ISIS) in Syria, Syrian state media and activists reported on Friday amid growing concerns about civilian casualties.

Syria's official news agency SANA reported that Russian jets along with government aircraft, carried out airstrikes against ISIS targets in the provinces of Aleppo in the north, Hama in the centre and Idlib in the north-west.

Command centres and arms warehouses of the al-Qaeda splinter group were destroyed in the bombing, according to SANA. No casualties were given.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists in Syria, said at least 12 Islamic State insurgents had been killed in strikes by Russian aircraft in the eastern province of al-Raqqa, the stronghold of the radical group in Syria.

"The Russian aircraft carried out overnight at least nine strikes in al-Raqqa, killing 12 Islamic State militants," Rami Abdel-Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Observatory, told dpa.

The Observatory also reported that Russian jets pounded facilities of the al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra Front, in the southern part of Idlib.

On Wednesday, Russia, a major ally of Syria, started its first airstrikes there, insisting they are aimed at the Islamic State that rules large swathes of the war-torn country.

However, the West-backed Syrian opposition said the strikes had killed civilians and targeted moderate rebels hostile to both the Islamic State and the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Civilians killed

At least seven civilians were killed in overnight Russian airstrikes in the rebel-held town of Jabal al-Zawiya in Idlib, according to the Observatory.

The dead included a child and a woman.

Jabal al-Zawiya is mainly controlled by al-Nusra Front and other Islamist rebel groups.

On Friday, several air raids believed to be mounted by Russian jets also targeted the town of Qaryatain on the south-eastern outskirts of Homs province in central Syria, the Observatory said without reporting casualties.

ISIS seized Qaryatain, a mostly Christian area, from Syrian President Bashar Assad's troops in August.

Emboldened by Russia's air campaign, Syrian government helicopters dropped barrels packed with explosives on the rebel-controlled town of Ezzul Din on the northern part of Homs, the Observatory said. No casualties were reported.

Ousama Abu Zeid, a military advisor for the opposition Free Syrian Army, expected a spike in Russian airstrikes against al-Assad's opponents.

"We have solid information that the Russians strikes are going to intensify in the coming days as there are preparations by Bashar Assad and his allies, the Iranian- backed Lebanese Hezbollah movement, to launch also a ground attack on [rebel-held] areas in northern Syria," Abu Zeid said.

"Many troops from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah have been massed to carry this attack. They will be backed by Russian airstrikes."

Some analysts have also questioned the agenda of Russia's military intervention in Syria.

"The Russian bombing campaign is targeting mainstream Syrian rebels - both Islamists and non-Islamists - who have been threatening the Assad regime thanks to serious military successes since the beginning of the year," said Emile Hokayem, an analyst with the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

"Russia seeks to ensure the survival of Assad first and foremost and those threatening Assad are non-ISIS rebels," he told dpa, using an acronym for ISIS.

Assad's troops, overstretched by the country's conflict now in its fifth year, have suffered military setbacks by rebels in recent months.

Read more on:    isis  |  russia  |  syria  |  security

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.