Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Russian jets hit ISIL-Held Palmyra

Russian SU-24M jet fighter armed with laser guided bombs takes off from a runaway
The Americans have not taken any decisive action here, but 'Russian jets hit Islamic State targets in Palmyra, Aleppo', Reuters Tue Oct 6, 2015.
Russian jets hit Islamic State targets in the Syrian city of Palmyra [...] Syrian state television and a monitoring group said on Tuesday, in some of the heaviest Russian attacks on the hardline Islamist group. The strikes destroyed 20 vehicles and three weapons depots [...] state television said, quoting a military source. [...] The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group tracking Syria's civil war, said the Palmyra strikes killed 15 Islamic State fighters. "It was the heaviest Russian attack on Palmyra," Observatory director Rami Abdulrahman said. [...] Islamic State forces captured Palmyra in May, an advance which brought them closer to the core of government-held territory in western Syria. It also put the city's Roman-era ruins under the militants' control.
(Reporting by Dominic Evans; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Raissa Kasolowsky)  

UPDATE 6th October 2015
Well,  this turned out to be false news:
Moscow (AFP) - Russia's defence ministry on Tuesday dismissed as "absolute lies" claims that its jets had bombed the Syrian city of Palmyra after Syrian state TV reported the strikes. "All reports by foreign media that Russian planes have allegedly conducted air strikes against the city of Palmyra are absolute lies," ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said, Russian news wires reported.
UPDATE 7th October 2015
But now ordinary Russians are said to be urging that they do:
Елена Полякова @Elen_Polyakova
@tjournal @VRSoloviev скорее бы наши уже уничтожили их.
The news item suggests that they are angered by the fact that ISIL destroyed a monument that many recognised as having been ion the cover of a schoolbook (Vladi Vovcuk 'Palmyra Arch Destruction Helps Putin Win Support For Syria Airstrikes', vocativ Oct 06, 2015). I am not sure I believe this story either, but it's a nice one. OK, who remembers what monument was on the cover of their third year history book?

UPDATE 7th October 2015
So, it turns out that the problem is that Russia's defence ministry took this to mean that the Russian airforce was being accused of striking the ruins outside modern Palmyra... duh. There was a strike, but not in the city itself:
Russian warplanes destroyed an ISIL command center on the outskirts of Syria's Palmyra, killing up to 40 militants, a Syrian military source told Sputnik on Tuesday. The command center was located near the town of As Sukhnah 28 km away from Palmyra. “The surgical airstrike was carried out in the vicinity of As Sukhnah. An ISIL command center was destroyed along with several pickup trucks and armored vehicles that were parked nearby. Thirty-five to forty militants were killed,” he added.

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