MOSCOW, November 30. /TASS/. Russian General Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov has discussed the fight against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group in Syria with his US colleague on the telephone, the Defense Ministry’s press service said on Monday.
"On 30 November 2015, on the initiative of the American side, a telephone conversation took place between the Chief of Russian General Staff, First Deputy Defense Minister Army General Valery Gerasimov and Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford," the press service said.
The sides discussed the issues connected with Russia’s actions and US-led international coalition on fighting against the ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - the former name of the Islamic State terrorist organization) terrorist group in Syria," the defense ministry said. "Army General Valery Gerasimov and General Joseph Dunford agreed to continue bilateral contacts," the press service added.
Russia’s Aerospace Forces started delivering pinpoint strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations, which are banned in Russia, on September 30, 2015, on a request from Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The air group initially comprised over 50 aircraft and helicopters, including Sukhoi Su-24M, Su-25SM and state-of-the-art Su-34 aircraft. They were redeployed to the Khmeimim airbase in the province of Latakia.
On October 7, four missile ships of the Russian Navy’s Caspian Flotilla fired 26 Kalibr cruise missiles (NATO codename Sizzler) at militants’ facilities in Syria. On October 8, the Syrian army passed to a large-scale offensive.
In mid-November, Russia increased the number of aircraft taking part in the operation in Syria to 69 and involved strategic bombers in strikes at militants.
The Islamic State is an extremist organization banned in Russia. In 2013-2014, it called itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). In June 2014, IS announce the establishment of the "Islamic caliphate" on the territories seized in Iraq and Syria. According to US’ Central Intelligence Agency, the extremist group includes around 30,000 people, while Iraqi authorities claim there are around 200,000 in IS. Among members of the group are citizens of 80 countries, including France, Great Britain, Germany, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, US, Canada, as well as Russia and other CIS countries. According to reports, militants now control around 40% of the Iraqi territory and 50% of the Syrian territory.