New Delhi: Russia’s military has said its air strikes in eastern Syria this week killed more than 300 Islamic State militants.
According to Moscow’s Defense Ministry official, Igor Konashenkov, more than 170 terrorists were injured. The ministry said the air strikes also hit and destroyed an IS training centre, as well as artillery positions, tanks and ammunition depots belonging to the militants.
“304 ISIS fighters were killed in the two-day operation, including seven high-level commanders of the terrorists, injured jihadists are 170. There were destroyed training centers for fighters, three command stations, eight tanks, three artillery, 17 heavy-duty vehicles fitted with cannons and heavy machine guns, and four ammunition depots, weapons and fuels used by ISIS, were also destroyed, “he said.
Russia launched its military operation in Syria on 30 September 2015. According to Moscow’s official information, air strikes have helped Damascus to regain control of large parts of the country and drive the Islamic State out from key areas.
Moscow has been a major backer of the Syrian regime, whose government troops have been advancing in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour against IS under the cover of Russian air strikes.
Meanwhile, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces are also marching against the Islamic State, backed by the US-led coalition.
According to a human rights observatory, September was the deadliest month for Syrians this year, after intense bombardments of Idlib and Islamic State group-occupied territories in October.
The ongoing war in Syria has killed at least 3,000 people including 955 civilians in September, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.
The number of people killed in September was higher due to increased fighting and intensified air raids of the international coalition and Russia against militant bastions in the north and east of Syria, but also due to increased Russian and regime strikes on rebel-held areas.
The 955 civilians killed in September included 207 children, said the Observatory. It said 738 militants – mostly from IS and a group led by al-Qaeda’s former Syria affiliate – also died.
The Syrian conflict began when Assad’s military orchestrated a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings. This move triggered an armed rebellion fueled by mass defections from the Syrian army.
According to independent monitors, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed in the war, mostly by the regime and its powerful allies.
President Vladimir Putin has also signed a law ratifying a deal with the Syrian government allowing Russia to keep its air base in Syria for almost half a century. The original deal, signed in Damascus in January, allows Russia to use its Hmeymim air base in Latakia Province which it has used to carry out air strikes against forces opposing President Bashar al-Assad.
The document states that Russian forces will be deployed at the Hmeymim base for 49 years with the option of extending that arrangement for 25-year periods.
Russian air support has played a crucial role in the Syrian conflict and has turned the tide in favor of Assad, one of Russia’s closest allies in the Middle East.