Russian airstrikes limited to 2 Syrian provinces as bad weather increases risk for civilians

© Shamil Zhumatov
Russian warplanes have carried out 16 sorties and destroyed 57 terrorist targets in Syria over the past 24 hours, with airstrikes only taking place in Latakia and Deir ez-Zor provinces due to bad weather.

"During the past day, Russian Air Force planes have performed 16 sorties in Syria, targeting 57 terrorist facilities,” Major-General Igor Konashenkov, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, said.

"Due to unfavorable weather conditions in order to avoid risks to civilians the Russian operations were performed only in the provinces of Latakia and Deir ez-Zor," Konashenkov added.

Russian air forces struck terrorists retreating under an onslaught from the Syrian government troops and “patriotic opposition” units in the mountains of Latakia province, Konashenkov said.

“Four isolated groups of jihadists” were hit by Russian warplanes, he added.

Near the village of Hatla in Deir ez-Zor province, a Su-24 attack jet destroyed a workshop being used by terrorists to rig cars with explosives, the spokesman said.

According to Konashenkov, the airstrike was carried out based on information provided to the Russian military by the Syrian opposition.

The Russian warplanes hit the area surrounding the village of Bagilya, destroying two artillery pieces as well as an oil and lubricants warehouse operated by terrorists, he said.

Also in Deir ez-Zor province, a jihadist command post, barracks for militants and the positions of terrorist field artillery were targeted, the spokesman added.

According to the spokesman, Russia is continuing its “humanitarian relief operations to aid civilians in the areas blocked by insurgents in Syria.”

A new batch of humanitarian aid is now being prepared for delivery to the besieged city of Deir ez-Zor, he said.

Konasheknov reminded that Russia already delivered 50 tons of food and essentials to the city on January 15.

Over the weekend, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) jihadists have reportedly slaughtered up to 300 people in the Deir ez-Zor province, killing “whole families” for alleged cooperation with the Syrian Army.

READ MORE: Russia kills 60 militants in Deir ez-Zor, where ISIS massacred hundreds of civilians

Russia has been bombing IS and other terror groups in Syria since September 30, 2015, at the official request of President Bashar Assad.

The Syrian Air Force also released data on their operations, saying that it carried out 481 sorties against the terrorists since December 27.

"The Syrian Air Force destroyed 1,662 objects belonging to terrorist organizations in the areas of Damascus, Homs, Hama, Idlib, Aleppo, and Deir ez-Zor," the Syrian army command said in a statement.

The jihadist command centers, ammunition factories, warehouses and other infrastructure was targeted, the statement added.

The Syrian Air Force has been operating in close cooperation with the Russian aviation group, which even saw Syrian fighter jets escorting Russian bombers on combat missions.