Six Russian long-range bombers have carried out airstrikes targeting ISIS terrorist positions in an area located close to the recently liberated Syrian city of Abu Kamal in the southeast of the country, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
The strikes destroyed Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL) hideouts and military equipment in the area, the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.The TU-22m3 bombers took off from an airfield in Russia and then flew over the territories of Iran and Iraq to carry out teh strikes, it added.
As the bombers entered Syrian airspace, they were joined by Su-30SM fighter jets based at Khmeimim Airbase in western Syria, which provided cover for the attack group, the ministry said. It added that the bombers successfully “hit all the designated targets” and returned to Russia.
Abu Kamal, a city in the Deir ez-Zor governorate located in the Euphrates valley close to the Syrian border with Iraq, was considered to be the last major stronghold of Islamic State. The city was liberated by the Syrian Army with the support of the Russian Air Forces in early November.
Prior to the city’s liberation, Russian forces conducted several “massive” missile and bomb strikes in the area to aid the Syrian Army’s offensive. Tu-22M3 bombers as well as the Russian submarine ‘Kolpino’ participated in the operation to support the advancing Syrian government troops.
Over the first three days of November alone, Tu-22M3 long-range bombers carried out 18 strikes against IS terrorists in eastern Syria, according to Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Igor Konashenkov. In addition, the submarines ‘Veliky Novgorod’ and ‘Kolpino’ carried out nine strikes from the Mediterranean Sea.
Following the liberation of Abu Kamal, Islamic State lost all the major settlements it had controlled and was pinned down by the Syrian and Iraqi armies in the border region between the two countries. The terrorists also lost the ability to freely move between Syrian and Iraqi territory.
The Russian Air Force has been assisting the Syrian Army in its fight against terrorists for about two years. Russia launched its anti-terrorist operation in Syria at the request of the Syrian government in September 2015. In March 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the partial withdrawal of the Russian Air Force from Syria and said that the primary objective of the operation had been achieved. The remaining aircraft, however, continue to assist the Syrian Army in its fight against terrorists.