Russia launched seven cruise missiles from two submarines in the Mediterranean Sea against Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) targets in Syria, according to the Kremlin’s Defense Ministry.
“The targets were command posts, communication centers, as well as militants’ weapons and ammunition stockpiles in areas of south-east Deir Ezzor under the control of Islamic State,” declared the Russian ministry, reports Reuters.
Citing the head of the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which uses a network of ground sources to monitor the war in Syria, the Independent reports that “buses and vehicles carrying about 400 militants and civilians crossed into Deir Ezzor province on Wednesday.”
Since breaking a three-year ISIS siege on the Deir Ezzor provincial capital last week, Russian and Iranian-backed Syrian regime have been combating the jihadist group.
The Independent notes:
The militants control less than half the city and are encircled on three sides with their backs to the Euphrates River. However, they still control rural areas outside the city and the border with Iraq.
US-backed Syrian forces are meanwhile advancing in the surrounding province from the east and north, on the other side of the river, setting up a race to the border with Iraq.
As an ally of Iran-backed dictator Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Russian military has launched missiles in the past at the now-dwindling ISIS terrorist group in Syria.
In late May, the Russian Navy bombed ISIS jihadists near the Syrian city of Palmyra.
Anti-ISIS forces, primarily the U.S.-led coalition and their local allies, have nearly pushed ISIS out of its shrinking caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
ISIS losses have dramatically escalated in recent months.
As of early August, the U.S.-led coalitions had retaken nearly 80 percent (27,000 square miles) of the territory (35,000 square miles) ISIS allegedly controlled at its peak in Iraq and Syria in early 2015.
Of the liberated area, 78 percent lies in Iraq and 58 percent in Syria, noted the Washington Post (WaPo).
The figure for Syria does not appear to include the territory the Assad regime and its allies have retaken from ISIS.
Earlier this week, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights dismissed claims by Iran’s terror proxy Hezbollah and Russia that their ally Assad has retaken 85 percent of the country.
Assad only controls 48 percent of the country, revealed the Observatory, adding that another 23 percent of the country has fallen into the hands of U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters who control swathes of territory in the northern part of the country.
That means Sunni jihadists groups, namely ISIS and its rival al-Qaeda, have been pushed out of 71 percent of Syria.
Al-Qaeda, which has benefited from international efforts against ISIS, appears to controls more territory in Syria than its rival.