MOSCOW, November 17. /TASS/. Russia has involved strategic and long-range aircraft in strikes against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organization in Syria, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reported to President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.
"Today, in a period from 05:00 a.m. to 05:30 a.m. Moscow time, twelve Tu-22 bombers hit Islamic State targets in Raqqah; in a period from 09:00 a.m. to 09:40 a.m. Tu-160 and Tu-95MS strategic bombers fired 34 air-launched cruise missiles at terrorist targets in the provinces of Aleppo and Idlib. A total of 127 sorties against 206 terrorist targets were scheduled for Tuesday, of which 82 sorties have already been flown and 140 targets have been hit. The operation is underway," he said.
According to the minister, Russian aircraft have doubled the number of strikes against Islamic State facilities in Syria, which made it possible to cover all terrorist facilities in the country.
"As part of the air operation, a massive air strike is being delivered at ISIL [former Islamic State name] facilities in Syria," Shoigu said.
"The number of sorties has been doubled, which makes it possible to deliver powerful precise strikes at ISIL facilities in Syria," he said.
Earlier, Putin gave instructions to intensify strikes delivered by Russian aircraft in Syria after Federal Security Service (FSB) chief Alexander Bortnikov reported that the crash of Russia’s A321 airliner above the Sinai Peninsula on October 31 was caused by a terrorist act carried out with the help of a homemade explosive device.
The crash killed 224 people, which became the largest air crash in the history of domestic aviation. Following the tragedy, Russia suspended flights to Egypt.
Russia’s Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov told Vladimir Putin that Russia will use long-range planes in addition to bombers and fighter jets to deliver strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria.
"To fulfil your orders to intensify strikes against targets of the Islamic State and other extremist organizations, the General Staff has worked out a plan of further air operation. Along with the intensification of sorties from the Hmeymim airbase in Syria, the plan provides to involve an extra of 25 long-range planes, eight Sukhoi-34 bombers, four Sukhoi-27SM fighter jets," he said.
The Russian aviation grouping at the moment comprises more than 50 aircraft and helicopters, including the Sukhoi Su-34 and Su-24M bombers, Su-25 attack aircraft, Su-30SM fighters and Mil Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters.
Anatoly Zhikharev, the long-range aviation commander, said Russia’s squadron of Tupolev-22M3 strategic bombers is currently dealing a massive strike against Islamic State positions in Syria.
"A reinforced squadron of long-range bombers Tupolev-22M3 from the Mozdok airdrome over twenty four hours deals two massive strikes against the Islamic State in eastern Syria’s Deir ez-Zor and Raqqah provinces. One attack was carried out last night, and another is in progress at the moment," he said.
Russia’s long-range planes have been attacking IS targets starting from Tuesday, November 17.
"In order to cope with the set tasks all types of air attack complexes are being used: strategic missile carrying bombers Tupolev-160 and Tupolev-95S and long-range bombers Tupolev-22M3. The crews of strategic bombers are performing their tasks in strict accordance with the plan for dealing the first massive air strike," Zhikharev said.
The Tupolev-160 and Tyupolev-95MS planes have already returned to base upon completion of their combat missions. "The planes are undergoing maintenance and preparations for more sorties. Objective monitoring data are being analyzed," he added.
Russia’s Aerospace Forces grouping has delivered over 4,000 missile and bomb strikes against terrorist facilities since the start of its operation in Syria, Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov said on Tuesday.
"Over the past 48 days, the Russian air grouping has performed 2,289 sorties and delivered 4,111 missile and bomb strikes against major infrastructure facilities and the concentrations of the militants’ armor and personnel," he said.
"During the combat operations, 562 control points, 64 terrorist training camps, 64 arms and ammunition production facilities and other objectives have been destroyed," the chief of the Russian General Staff said.
The Russian military started an operation against militants of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist groups (outlawed in Russia) in Syria on September 30 at the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Besides, overnight to October 7, the Caspian Flotilla ships delivered a massive strike on the IS objectives in Syria, using Kalibr NK shipborne cruise missiles.