The Russian Defense Ministry said that the country’s strategic bombers launched airstrikes on large ISIL arms and ammunition depots in Deir Ezzur province, successfully completed their combat mission in Syria, and returned to Russia.
“On February 3, Tu-22M3 long-range bombers that took off from a Russian airfield and flew over Iraq and Iran carried out group airstrikes on terrorist targets in the province of Deir Ezzur.”
“Large Daesh [ISIL] arms and ammunition depots have been the targets of the strikes. Reconnaissance means have confirmed the destruction of all designated targets. Su-30SM and Su-35S provided air cover to the Russian bombers from the Hmeymim airbase.”
This has been the sixth time Russian long-range struck ISIL targets near Deir Ezzur after the Russian strategic bombers started strikes on January 21.
The ISIL terrorists drove a wedge along the government-controlled regions mid-January after capturing Deir Ezzur’s cemetery and the road connecting the city to the airbase. 14,000 ISIL terrorists launched a massive attack on army positions South of Deir Ezzur city, cutting off the strategic road connecting the city to a military airport.
After several rounds of heavy offensives against the Syrian Army positions that all failed, 14,000 ISIL militants and tens of suicide attackers and bomb-laden vehicles, managed to advance against government forces on the road connecting Deir Ezzur airbase to the city, dividing army-controlled regions in Deir Ezzur into two parts.
Military sources disclosed that the ISIL’s current round of attacks is the heaviest and largest operation the terrorist group has ever conducted in Deir Ezzur city and its military airport.
According to reports, the ISIL has gathered a large number of its forces from Raqqa, Deir Ezzur countryside and even from Mosul in Iraq to take part in the offensive. The ISIL also has a large number of suicide attackers and bomb-laden vehicles involved in the offensive in Deir Ezzur.
Then, Syrian Army troops, backed up by the Syrian and Russian air force, started to hit ISIL’s positions hard in the outskirts of Deir Ezzur to remove terrorists’ siege on the city’s military airport, managing to recapture several regions between the Deir Ezzur airbase and the city.
Syrian army units backed by aerial support have recaptured more areas in strategic al-Ma’amel region and in the surrounding areas of security brigade, as the military operations come closer to breaking the Deir Ezzur military airport siege.
Russia begun an aerial operation against the terrorists in Syria since September 2015 at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s request.
The Russian military announced late 2016 that the county’s warplanes have conducted 71,000 airstrikes and killed at least 35,000 terrorists since the start of Russia’s anti-terror campaign in Syria.
“Since the start of the operation, Russian fighter jets have conducted 17,800 sorties, launching 71,000 strikes on terrorists’ infrastructure, eliminating 725 training camps, 405 plants producing ammunition, 1,500 pieces of terrorists’ military equipment, 35,000 militants, including 204 field commanders,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.
Shoigu also added that the Russian Aerospace Forces have destroyed over 700 terrorist training camps in Syria during its campaign,
“Some 9,000 militants have surrendered themselves and laid down arms in Syria,” Shoigu said, adding that Russia’s military campaign in Syria has helped stop the spread of terrorism in the region and keep the country united.
“In general, the operation in Syria allowed to solve a number of geopolitical problems: international terrorist organizations have been dealt a serious blow in Syria, their spread in the region has been stopped, the financial support of militant groups… has been disrupted, and the collapse of the Syrian state has been prevented,” he said.
“The process of political settlement and reconciliation of warring parties has been launched in Syria. A total of 1074 settlements populated by some 3 million people have joined the ceasefire regime, while 108,000 refugees returned home; 9,000 militants laid down arms,” he added.
On September 30, 2015 Russian bombers conducted their first strikes against terrorist targets in Syria, hitting ISIL positions near the cities of Homs and Hama.
Although Russia annihilated tens of thousands of terrorists in Syria, the country also suffered military losses.
By that time the US-led coalition had been already active in Syria for over a year. Yet Russia became the only state which received an official request from Bashar Assad to carry out air strikes in the country. The Russian fighter jets operated from the Hmeimim air base located in Lattakia province.
During its mission, the Russian Air Force aided the Syrian army in liberating one of the country’s key cities and a world heritage site, Palmyra (Tadmur) in Homs province.
The ancient city had been under the control of ISIL since May 2015 before it was retaken by Syrian government forces backed by Russian air raids in March this year. However, ISIL kicked off a large-scale operation on December 8, 2016, with thousands of forces in Homs province to take control of Palmyra, and finally managed to capture the city on December 11.
On March 15, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the withdrawal of the majority of Russian warplanes and personnel from Syria, stressing that the major part of the operation in Syria was over.
“I believe that the objectives with which the Ministry of Defense has been tasked have been largely reached,” Putin said, adding that “Therefore, starting with tomorrow I order the withdrawal of the main part of our military from the Syrian Arab Republic.”