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Russia claims 380 'ISIS targets' in Syria hit since start of bombing

AFP , Friday 16 Oct 2015
Air Strikes
A frame grab taken from footage released by Russia's Defence Ministry, shows what Russia says is smoke rising after air strikes carried out by the Russian air force on an Islamic State base in Idlib province, Syria October 15, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)
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Russia has hit more than 380 "ISIS targets" since launching its bombing campaign in Syria on September 30, a senior military official said on Friday.

"Since the start of the operation we conducted more than 600 sorties and bombed more than 380 ISIS targets," Colonel General Andrei Kartapolov, a senior Russian General Staff official, told Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda.

Russia launched a bombing campaign in Syria late last month in support of forces loyal to its longstanding ally President Bashar al-Assad.

Moscow's military has almost uniformly claimed its strikes have hit "ISIS" targets despite the fact that many of the sites struck seem to fall outside territory held by the group.

The US and other members of a rival coalition targeting ISIS say Moscow has focused the bulk of its firepower on other rebel groups battling Assad.

Kartapolov slammed the US-led coalition, saying the US had not responded to Russia's invitation to cooperate in the fight against ISIS.

"They consider it humiliating to admit that they cannot fulfil a task they had set out for themselves one year ago without Russia," Kartapolov said, adding that the coalition's year-long bombing campaign was "window-dressing."

"They are in fact unlikely to have the necessary amount of information about ISIS targets, which the results of their strikes reflects," he said.

Kartapolov also accused the coalition of bombing infrastructure essential to a ground operation by the Syrian army.

"It [coalition bombing] does not complicate the activities of ISIS as much as that of the government forces of President Assad," he said.

Speaking at a regional summit in Kazakhstan on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised the more than two-week-old campaign, saying the strikes had "destroyed dozens of command posts, munitions depots, hundreds of terrorists and a large amount of military hardware".

The Russian defence ministry said Friday that the latest Russian air strikes had created "favourable conditions" for a Syrian ground offensive and destroyed two ISIS command posts in the Aleppo province, among other targets.

Kartapolov said that Russia -- which already has a naval facility in the port city of Tartus and uses an airfield in Latakia -- could build a full-fledged Russian military base in the country.

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