Russia’s Mediterranean-stationed naval group will launch a major offensive against militants near Syria’s divided city of Aleppo on Wednesday, says a Russian Defense Ministry source.
The offensive will be headed by the Russian navy’s flagship aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, with the support of the Peter the Great warship and other military ships, RT reported the source as saying on Tuesday.
Jets from the ships will be taking off “in the nearest hours” and will hit militant targets stationed on the far outskirts of Aleppo, while long-range projectiles, including Kalibr cruise missiles, will be launched from the ships and accompanying submarines.
The source stressed that that attacks will be carried out in areas where there is no civilian presence.
“The strikes will avoid the city of Aleppo to prevent civilian casualties, because terrorists continue to use city residents as human shields,” the source said.
The attacks are aimed at blocking the entry of more terrorists into the city, which has been divided since 2012 between government forces in the west and the militants in the east.
Syrian government forces flash the V-sign as they hold a position in Aleppo’s 1070 district on November 8, 2016, after seizing it from militants. (Photo by AFP)
“The group’s main goal is to carry out missile strikes on terrorists outside of Aleppo that are attempting to get into the city,” he added.
Last week, Russia announced that fleet of warships headed by the Admiral Kuznetsov had reached the Mediterranean Sea and was preparing for an anti-terror offensive.
In July, Russia said that the flagship, classified by Moscow as a heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser (TAVKR), will be carrying 15 Sukhoi Su-33 fighter jets and Mikoyan MiG-29K/KUB fighters, and around 10 Kamov Ka-52K, Ka-27, and Ka-31 choppers.
Militants prepare to fire a home-made mortar launcher during a major assault on Syrian government forces West of Aleppo city on October 28, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Russia started its military campaign in Syria on September 30, 2015, based on a request from the Syrian government.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict. The UN has stopped its official casualty count in Syria, citing its inability to verify the figures it receives from various sources.