International

Russian jets hit 472 targets in Syria in past two days

MOSCOW: Moscow on Monday said its warplanes had hit 472 targets in war-torn Syria in the past two days, including tanker trucks and oil infrastructure in territory controlled by the Islamic State group.

“In 141 combat sorties in the past two days, warplanes of the Russian airforce struck 472 terrorist targets in the provinces of Aleppo, Damascus, Idlib, Latakia, Hama, Homs, Raqa and Deir Ezzor,” the Russian defence ministry said in a statement.

The military said that the latest strikes had destroyed 80 tanker trucks near the Islamic State stronghold of Raqa, as well as a large oil storage tank and a oil refinery south of the city.

Fuel reserves some 50 kilometres (31 miles) north of Deir Ezzor were also destroyed in the strikes, the defence ministry said.

The Russian defence ministry said last week that it was “hunting” oil transporters in a bid to cut IS financing and claimed that in the past five days some 1,000 fuel trucks had been destroyed.

The Russian military claimed that “terrorists” had suffered “serious losses” in Saraqib, a city in the northwestern province of Idlib province, and in the town of Qalaat al-Madiq in the Hama province.

President Vladimir Putin last week ordered the intensification of Moscow’s bombing campaign in Syria after confirming that the Russian passenger plane that crashed in Egypt’s Sinai last month, killing all 224 people on board, had been brought down by a bomb.

Russia says its air strikes target IS and other “terrorists,” but the West has previously said that Russia is targeting moderate opposition factions fighting the Moscow-backed regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The defence ministry on Monday dismissed as “unfounded” the United States’ claim its strikes were not targeting IS.

“As always these (claims) are unfounded, without concrete details or facts, citing unnamed sources,” the defence ministry said.

Assad said in an interview published Sunday that government troops were advancing on “nearly every front” thanks to the Russian air strikes, with Syrian state media reporting the regime had taken control over Maheen and Hawareen in the southeast of Homs province.

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