Russian airstrikes kill 2 ISIS commanders, 300 militants – Defense Ministry

A Russian Su-24 front-line bomber jet takes off at Latakia airport, Syria. © Dmitriy Vinogradov
Russian air forces carried out 67 sorties, striking 60 separate targets in northern Syria in the past 24 hours, the Defense Ministry has reported. Two senior Islamic State field commanders are reportedly among some 300 militants killed in the strikes.

“Among the targets are the communication hubs, command posts, fuel stores and terrorist training bases located located in Raqqa, Latakia, Idlip, Aleppo and Hama,” said deputy chief of staff Lieutenant-General Igor Makushev, in a Moscow media briefing.

Makushev said that drone footage verified that a precision hit destroyed the headquarters of Liwa-al-Haqq, an Islamist group, which has been fighting the government of Bashar Assad since 2012. Russia said that a radio intercept confirmed the deaths of 200 fighters, and two commanders, who Makushev said belonged to Islamic State.

Another 100 Islamists were killed in an airstrike near Aleppo, in which Russian Sukhoi jets destroyed a base and armaments store housed in a former prison.

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In total the airstrikes destroyed six communication hubs, six armories, 17 training bases and 17 armored vehicles, the Russian official said.

“The militants are sustaining significant losses from the airstrikes, and are having to adjust their tactics, spreading out over a wider area, concealing themselves more thoroughly, or hiding in urban settlements,” Makushev said.

“In these conditions, the Russian air forces are continuing and intensifying their airstrikes.”

Russian air forces have carried out airstrikes from a specially-built base outside the government-controlled stronghold of Latakia since September 30, at the behest of Bashar Assad. About 2,000 Russian personnel have been deployed in the country, but Moscow says it has no plans to use ground forces in the fight against militants.