Airforce targets buildings and weapons depots used by terrorists, according to Russian media, while non-Isis rebels continue to say they are targets
Russian airstrikes in Syria have targeted command and communications centres, weapons depots and training centres used by militants and terrorists, Russian news agencies have reported.
Maj-Gen Igor Konashenkov, a military spokesman, said Russia’s air force had made 64 deployments against 55 Islamic State targets in Syria in the past 24 hours. These took place in the provinces of Raqqa, Hama, Damascus and Aleppo.
Russia started bombing in Syria in late September, saying it was targeting Isis militants, a campaign that has drawn Moscow deeper into Syria’s four-year conflict. But rebels on the ground and western states said Moscow’s air campaign, combined with ground attacks by pro-Assad forces, have mainly targeted rebel groups not associated with Isis, including US-trained fighters.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed on Saturday that Russian strikes hit northern areas of Latakia province, the coastal heartland of Assad’s Alawite minority sect, as well as northern areas of Hama province further east. There was no immediate information on casualties.
Syrian state television said in a newsflash that attacks carried out by government forces in the area had killed and wounded a number of “terrorists”, a term it uses to describe all insurgents in Syria. The Observatory said Isis had no real presence in these areas, however there were other militants in northern Syria, such as Chechens, whom Russia might want toeliminate.
A large explosion also hit a building on the outskirts of the town of al-Bab in northern Syria, which is held by Isis. It was not immediately clear what caused the blast, which the group had used to store explosives, according to the Britain-based Observatory, which tracks the conflict using sources on the ground.
The news comes as the Pentagon said it expects to hold new talks with Russia’s military on pilot safety in Syria’s war as soon as this weekend, in order to avoid accidental clashes as the countries carry out separate bombing campaigns.
On Friday, Isis seized villages in the same province as rival insurgents, in battles close to the city of Aleppo.
Human Rights Watch said the first Russian airstrikes on the northern city of Homs last month killed at least 17 civilians and should be investigated for possible violations of the laws of war. Vladmir Putin said earlier this month that reports of civilian deaths in Russian airstrikes on Syria were an “information attack”.