Russian jets hit Islamic State targets in Palmyra, Aleppo

Updated: 2015-10-07 08:29

By Reuters In Beirut And Moscow(China Daily)

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Russian jets hit Islamic State targets in the Syrian city of Palmyra and the northern province of Aleppo, Syrian television said on Tuesday, quoting a military source.

The strikes destroyed 20 vehicles and three weapons depots in Islamic State-held Palmyra, it said. In Aleppo, they hit the towns of Al-Bab and Deir Hafer, about 20 kilometers east of a military airport currently besieged by Islamic State fighters.

Al-Manar television, run by the Lebanese Hezbollah group which is allied to Syria, said the Russian air force also carried out four raids in the Jabal al-Zawiya area in the northwestern province of Idlib.

Islamic State forces captured Palmyra in May, an advance which brought them closer to the core of government-held territory in western Syria. It also put the city's Roman-era ruins under the militants' control.

Syria's antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim said on Sunday Islamic State fighters blew up Palmyra's Arch of Triumph, one of the most treasured monuments in the 2,000-year-old city. They had already destroyed temples and other antiquities.

Russia has carried out dozens of strikes in Syria since launching its air campaign last Wednesday.

While Moscow says its intervention targets the hardline Islamic State fighters who control much of eastern and northern Syria, many of the Russian strikes so far have hit rival insurgent forces opposed to the Syrian government.

'No ground troops'

Russia is not conducting operations in Syria involving its own ground troops and will not do so, Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov, the head of the lower house of parliament's defence committee, said on Tuesday, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.

Komoyedov, who on Monday had said it was likely that Russian volunteers would travel to Syria to fight there, was also quoted as saying that Russia was blocking any attempts by its citizens to fight on either side in the Syrian conflict.

Russia's NATO envoy said on Tuesday he thought the military alliance was using the accidental incursion of a Russian plane into Turkish airspace to distort the aims of Moscow's air campaign in Syria, according to the TASS news agency.

"The impression is that the incident in Turkish airspace was used to plug NATO as an organization into the information campaign waged by the West to distort the aims of the operations carried out by the Russian air force in Syria," Alexander Grushko, Russia's NATO envoy, was quoted as telling reporters in Brussels.

(China Daily 10/07/2015 page4)