Syria air strikes: Russian military claims it has hit 86 Isis targets, destroying 'most' munitions and heavy weapons
The Russian military claims to have destroyed “most” of Isis’s ammunition and heavy weapons after days of intensive air strikes across Syria.
The extraordinary claims, which have been met with scepticism from experts, were accompanied by a series of videos showing attacks on targets by Su-24 and -24M bombers.
According to the ministry, at least 86 Isis targets were hit during 88 separate sorties over 24 hours on Monday and Tuesday. Russia said it carried out more than 100 air missions in Syria over the weekend.
“Russian air strikes resulted in the elimination of the majority of ISIS ammunition, heavy vehicles and equipment,” the Russian defence ministry said in a statement.
It added that Russian jets hit command posts, military vehicles, ammunition and armament depots, plants producing explosives, field camps and bases in the provinces of Raqqah, Hama, Idlib, Latakia and Aleppo.
Srdja Trifkovic, a Serbian-American foreign affairs expert and editor with Chronicles magazine, told Russa Today: “The Russians with Syrian boots on the ground have done more to degrade Isis in less than 10 days than the US did in more than a year of its half-hearted campaign.”
But Charlie Winter, a senior researcher for UK think-tank Quilliam, said Russia's claims were 'ridiculous'. “I highly doubt that even the Russians, who will be party to much of Assad intelligence, know where the “majority of ISIS ammunition, heavy vehicles and equipment” is located,” Mr Winter told The Independent.
Russia began launching air strikes in Syria on 30 September at the request of the Syrian government, allowing Syrian government forces to carry out a multi-pronged ground assault.
Moscow insists it is mainly targeting the Isis group, but Western-backed rebels say the ground-and-air offensive is largely being waged in areas controlled by other insurgents in order to strengthen the Assad regime’s position.
“[Western countries] say we are bombing false targets. On Sunday US air forces targeted a power station and a transformer in Aleppo. Why did they do it? Whom did they punish? What was the sense? That is unclear,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.
Also on Tuesday, Iraq said it had begun bombing Isis targets with help from a new intelligence centre that has staff from Russia, Iran and Syria.
"We can get a lot of use from Russian intelligence [in Iraq], even if they don't do air strikes,” Shia politician Hakim al Zamili told Reuters.