Russia Announces Major Operation in Syria

Russia Announces Major Operation in Syria

Russian missiles pounded opposition targets in Syria on Tuesday, the start of a much-anticipated offensive, while activists reported the resumption of bombing in militant-held neighborhoods of Aleppo for the first time in nearly a month, apparently by Syrian government warplanes.
The Russian blitz began hours after President Vladimir Putin and US President-elect Donald Trump discussed Syria in a phone call and agreed on the need to combine efforts in the fight against what the Kremlin called their No. 1 enemy—”international terrorism and extremism”, AP reported
Russia said its offensive, using long-range missiles and its carrier-borne jets in combat for the first time on opposition areas in Syria, focused on militant-held northern Idlib Province and parts of the central province of Homs. It didn’t mention the besieged eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo.
Months of negotiations between Moscow and the Obama administration have failed to cement a long-term ceasefire in Aleppo, which has become the focus of the war between President Bashar Assad and militants fighting to topple him, some of whom receive US aid.
Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate is fighting alongside the militants, but the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group has no presence in Aleppo.
In announcing the start of what he called “a major operation,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said it would target positions of the IS group and Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate in Idlib and Homs provinces.
Appearing alongside Putin, Shoigu said Su-33 jets from the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov were involved in the operation, marking the carrier’s combat debut in Syria. A Russian navy frigate was also launching long-range Kalibr cruise missiles at militant targets, he said.
The Russian strikes were aimed at ammunition depots, training camps and armaments factories, Shoigu said, adding that before launching the attacks, military intelligence had thoroughly identified and selected targets, including factories producing toxic chemical agents.

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