Russia, Syria Bombings: Jets Attack ISIS at Ancient City of Palmyra

A military source told Syrian state television that the latest strikes had destroyed 20 jihadi tanks and three weapons depots in Palmyra.

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Across Syria, Russian jets carried out at least 34 air strikes in the last 24 hours, the Observatory said.

Meanwhile, in the disputed city of Aleppo bombers pounded the towns of Al-Bab and Deir Hafer, around 10 miles east of a key military airport now held by Assad’s forces but under siege from ISIS fighters. With Russia extending its air strikes to include the ancient city of Palmyra, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he was losing patience with Russian violations of his country’s air space.

Thousands of rebels are fleeing their positions toward Turkey and Jordan, as a result of the Russian and Syrian airstrikes, the state-run TV reported Tuesday. Moscow has justified its mission in Syria as an attempt to help the weakened Syrian regime fend off ISIL and what it called other terrorist groups, but analysts say that Russia’s choice of targets betrays its true priority: saving the regime from further losses.

“Our aviation in Syria does not attack residential areas nor – especially not – the architectural monuments there,” he said.

Islamic State forces captured Palmyra in May, an advance which brought them closer to the core of government-held territory in western Syria.

Russian Federation has been a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while the U.S. has said that Assad must step down to pave the way for democracy in Syria. It also put the city’s Roman-era ruins under the militants’ control.

But the United States’ uneasy alliances with Turkey and the elusive “moderate opposition groups” in Syria, and the reluctance of Obama and Congress to get drawn further into that nation’s bloody disaster, require American leaders to engage in verbal jiujitsu when asked if the U.S.-led air campaign is also targeting the Nusra Front, Ahrar al Shram and other al-Qaida-linked groups.

Another four Islamic State fighters were killed near Raqqa, the eastern city which has been the group’s stronghold in Syria for the last two years.

Mahmoud al-Louz, a media activist in Homs province, where Russian Federation has launched strikes since the first day of its operation, said Nusra has good relations with other brigades and the people because it is fighting the regime. About 45 percent of the country is under Islamic State militants and the rest is controlled by Kurds, various rebels and jihadists, he said.

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“Six strikes were conducted on targets of the ISIS terrorist group in 14 flights by Sukhoi Su-34, Sukhoi Su-24M and Sukhoi Su-25 jets”, the defence ministry said in a statement.

Russia, Syria Bombings: Jets Attack ISIS at Ancient City of Palmyra