Russia bombs Palmyra, eastern Syria
Russia’s airforce on Thursday said it carried out strikes near the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-held ancient city of Palmyra for the second time this week, claiming its targets were far from Syria’s historic sites.
Russian bombers “destroyed a large fortified location of Islamic State militants,” including an air-defense gun and a tank, the defense ministry said in a statement.
The ministry added that it “only strikes the objects of terrorist infrastructure which are at a considerable distance from the architectural monuments” and the target was about 30km from the historic citadel.
Airforce planes hit a total of 263 targets in two days, the ministry said. Among other targets was a munitions base near Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province belonging to Al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front, which received a shipment of anti-tank rockets several days ago, it said.
The Russian air force also hit targets around Palmyra on Monday.
Russia is began its air strikes on Syria on September 30, saying they were primarily targeting ISIS, though the U.S. and its allies in a separate coalition say that Moscow is mainly attacking more moderate groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s army.
Moscow has adjusted rhetoric recently regarding the rebels fighting Assad in Syria, from discrediting the Western-backed Free Syrian Army as practically non-existent to last month proposing air support to moderate rebels.