Russia, France hit ISIS’s bastion in Syria
Russia and France hit Islamist militants’ bastion in Syria on Tuesday as President Vladimir Putin instructed Moscow’s navy to cooperate with its French “allies.”
Putin on Tuesday ordered the Russian navy in the Mediterranean to establish contact with its French counterparts and work together “as allies” in a campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group in Syria.
“It’s necessary to establish direct contact with the French and work with them as allies,” Putin told the military top brass at a meeting after French President Francois Hollande said the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle would be deployed to the eastern Mediterranean.
Hollande on Monday called on the United States and Russia to join a global coalition to destroy ISIS following the attacks in Paris, and hours later French fighter jets launched fresh strikes on targets in Syria.
Russia intensifies anti-ISIS strikes
Meanwhile, Russia on Tuesday intensified air strikes in Syria with its air force carrying around 2,300 sorties in Syria in the last 48 days.
Russian strategic bombers on Tuesday hit ISIS group targets in the Raqqa and Deir Ezzor provinces of Syria, the defence minister said, after Moscow pledged vengeance on militants who downed its passenger jet in Egypt.
“Long-range Tu-22 bombers carried out strikes against targets of the terrorist organisation of IS in the province of Raqa and Deir Ezzor,” minister Sergei Shoigu said, adding that cruise missile strikes had also hit Aleppo and Idlib provinces.
Earlier, A U.S. defense official said Russia is waging a significant number of strikes in Syria on Tuesday and told Washington ahead of the attacks it would use both sea-launched cruise missiles and long-range bombers.
Moscow gave the United States notice ahead of the strikes under an agreement with Washington on air safety protocols, the official said, adding at least some of the strikes targeted the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) stronghold of Raqqa.
The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stressed that the United States was not coordinating with Russia and the Russian strikes had not prompted the United States to call off any coalition activities.
Russia Tuesday also staged a “significant number” of air strikes on ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in Syria, the official said. The attacks may have included sea-launched cruise missiles and long range bombers, he added.
French defence minister said on Tuesday evening that French jets were striking ISIS’s bastion Raqqa.
U.S.-led coalition on ISIS
Meanwhile, the Combined Joint Task Force leading the operations said the U.S.-led military coalition on Monday staged 23 air strikes targeting ISIS in Syria and Iraq, including oil facilities used by the militant group,
In a statement released on Tuesday, the task force said six strikes near three Syrian cities hit several fighting positions as well as an Islamic State gas and oil separation point near Abu Kamal and three oil facilities near Deir Ezzor, the statement said.
In Iraq, 17 strikes in Iraq near six cities hit numerous targets including militants’ fighting positions, roads, tactical units and a headquarters in Sinjar.