Russia Strikes IS Stronghold in Syria Killing Dozens

raqqa-isisRussian authorities have confirmed that six Tupolev warplanes bombarded targets near Raqqa, destroying weapons storage facility, a chemical weapons factory and a training camp used by the IS.

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that the airstrikes caused “significant material damages” and “a large number of fighters were killed” but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there were 10 raids with at least 30 casualties including both extremist fighters and civilians.

Russia is collaborating with Damascus to fight the extremist group but Turkey which is against Assad’s stay in power has requested joint operations with Moscow in Syria. It is unclear how Ankara plans to implement it but Foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said they “will discuss all the details” with their Russian counterparts. He voiced optimism that strengthening cooperation between their military, intelligence and foreign service “will contribute to this process” of eliminating IS. He thinks that their cooperation will help to prevent mistakes because many countries are actively engaged in Syria.

Meanwhile, Russia will be suspending its airstrikes on Aleppo for three hours each day for humanitarian aid to reach the population in rebel-held areas. The UN was hoping for a 48-hour ceasefire per week to deliver the aid through the seven humanitarian corridors as fighting intensifies between rebel and pro-Assad forces.

Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoy, chief of the main operational directorate, said they will continue to prevent “terrorist transferring backup forces” to rebel controlled areas in Aleppo estimating that around “7000 fighters armed with tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, artillery and weapon-mounted vehicles” have been amassing ahead of an assault on government forces to end the siege.

Protests that started in Syria in 2011 for reforms turned into a call for Assad to step down before becoming a civil war that has ravaged the country for more than 5 years killing hundreds of thousands and forcing millions to flee. Several efforts to end the war have been fruitless.

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