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UPDATE 1-Russia eases Syria air strikes as militants regroup
October 15, 2015 / 1:30 PM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-Russia eases Syria air strikes as militants regroup

(Adds detail, background)

MOSCOW, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Russia’s air force hit 32 Islamic State positions in Syria over the past 24 hours, reducing the intensity of its air campaign to focus on new targets as militants regroup on the ground, the Russian defence ministry said on Thursday.

Russia has been increasing its number of daily attacks over the last two weeks, reaching a peak of 88 sorties against 86 targets on Tuesday, destroying ammunition stores, field positions and tanks captured from the Syrian army.

“The intensity of our military aviation operations decreased slightly in the last 24 hours,” the ministry said in a statement. “As a result of active offensive operations by the Syrian armed forces, the frontline with the terrorists is changing.”

The ministry said air force jets used KAB-500 precision guided bombs to destroy a firing position in Damascus province equipped with an Osa surface-to-air missile system, know by the NATO code name SA-8 Gecko.

Other targets were hit in Syria’s western Idlib, Hama and Aleppo provinces as well as the Deir Ez-Zor region in the east of the country, it said.

Russia says its objective it to help fight Islamic State militants.

But Russian jets have supported a campaign of ground attacks by Syrian troops and their allies over the last week in areas of western Syria that are crucial to the survival of President Bashar al-Assad’s and held by rebel groups other than Islamic State.

Backed by Russian air support, the Syrian army launched a dawn offensive on rebel-held towns north of the city of Homs earlier on Thursday.

The defence ministry said SU-34, SU-24M and SU-25 fighter jets carried out 33 sorties over the past 24 hours. (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Writing by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Christian Lowe)

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