12 ISIL jihadists killed in Russia raids on Syria's Raqa: Monitor
BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
Reuters PhotoAt least 12 jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have been killed in Russia's first air strikes on the extremist faction's main Syrian bastion, a monitoring group said.
Russia's defence ministry confirmed it had carried out strikes on Raqa province on Oct.1, as well as raids on the provinces of Aleppo in the north, Idlib in the northwest, and Hama in the centre.
In a statement, the ministry said Russian Su-34 planes struck "an ISIL training camp near the village of Maadan Jadid," 70 km (45 miles) east of Raqa city, and "a camouflaged command post at Kasrat Faraj, southwest of Raqa."
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said those strikes had killed at least a dozen ISIL fighters.
"Last night, Russian strikes on the western edges of Raqa city, and near the Tabqa military airport, killed 12 ISIL jihadists," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said on Oct.2.
He said their bodies were transported to a hospital in the province.
Moscow's defence ministry said Friday that its war planes had "conducted 18 sorties on 12 positions held by the Islamic State [ISIL] terrorist group in Syria" since Oct.1.
The statement said Russian raids destroyed "a command post and communications centre" held by ISIL in Daret Ezza in Aleppo province. They are Russia's first strikes on the province, which borders Turkey to the north.
The ministry said its raids had also "completely destroyed" bunkers and weapons depots in Maaret al-Numan and Habeet in Idlib province.
Russian aerial attacks also struck "an ISIL command post" in Kafr Zeita in Hama province.
According to the Observatory, none of these areas are controlled by ISIL. Kafr Zeita is held by Islamist rebels, while the areas in Idlib and Aleppo are held by a jihadist group that rivals ISIL, Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate Al-Nusra Front.
Abdel Rahman had told AFP that seven civilians, including two children, were killed in Russian air attacks on Idlib province late Oct.1.
A Syrian military source told AFP that Russian strikes on Friday also targeted an ancient Christian town in Homs province seized by ISIL on August 5.
"Russian warplanes struck Al-Qaryatain this morning," the source said.
Al-Qaryatain lies near the historic Syrian city of Palmyra, which ISIL overran in May and which the Syrian army has tried hard to retake.
The latest strikes come as US and other officials expressed concern that the Russian air force is concentrating its attacks on groups opposed to the embattled regime of Bashar al-Assad, instead of specifically on ISıl.
But Moscow insists it is targeting ISIL and "other terrorist groups."