With Russia extending its air strikes to include the ancient city of Palmyra, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he was losing patience with Russian violations of his country’s air space.
Syrian state television reported that the strikes targeted and destroyed 20 vehicles and 3 weapon depots in Palmyra.
Syrian state television and a monitoring group said earlier on Tuesday that Russian jets had hit Islamic State targets in Palmyra. Airstrikes were also waged at the towns of Al-Bab and Deir Hafer in Aleppo, 10 miles east of a military airport overrun by ISIS militants.
However, the Russian attacks have been well received by a few in the captured city of Palmyra.
Syria’s antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim said on Sunday Islamic State fighters blew up Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph, one of the most treasured monuments in the 2 000-year-old city. It also put the city’s Roman-era ruins under the militants’ control. Syria’s opposition groups, including Islamist rebels, and anti-Russia fighters with Islamic State have criticized the move, with many likening its intervention in Syria to the Soviet Union’s involvement in Afghanistan that began in 1979.
After Russian Federation began bombing Syria this week, Pentagon officials have declined to directly answer questions on how they felt about the Kremlin targeting Assad’s enemies other than Islamic State.
“Amidst an global conspiracy against the Arab World, and Islamic identity as mainstream Sunni Muslims, courageous Syria and its great men stand steadfast in an historic battle against the Russian and Iranian occupiers and their criminal partner [Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah] Al-Sisi”, said the statement, which was published under the title, “Muslim Brotherhood statement on the Iran-Russia invasion of Syria”. In Syria, Russian Federation announced Monday that its “volunteer” forces would join the fight there, adding ground troops to the air strikes that Russian Federation has already been carrying out.
The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war through activists, said recent violence in Hama, Homs, Aleppo and Idlib suggest the Russian airstrikes are helping Assad retake areas and consolidate others.
But the United States’ uneasy alliances with Turkey and the elusive “moderate opposition groups” in Syria, and the reluctance of Obama and Congress to get drawn further into that nation’s bloody disaster, require American leaders to engage in verbal jiujitsu when asked if the U.S.-led air campaign is also targeting the Nusra Front, Ahrar al Shram and other al-Qaida-linked groups.
Another four Islamic State fighters were killed in the strikes Tuesday near Raqqa, the eastern city which has been the group’s stronghold in Syria for the last two years.
So far, according to Russian defence ministry statements, it has carried out roughly 20 sorties per day.