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Russians Begin New Offensive Air Operation in Syria

Nov. 15, 2016 (EIRNS)—This morning, Russian naval and air forces deployed to Syria to begin a new air campaign against terrorist targets in Idlib and Homs provinces. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made the announcement during a meeting of the leadership of the Defense Ministry and the defense industry with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Shoigu reported that, for the first time in Russian naval history, combat sorties were launched from the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, that the frigate Admiral Gorgorovich had launched Kalibr cruise missiles, and that, also, Bastion coastal defense missiles were launched at targets in the interior of Syria.

"Before today, we conducted meticulous and thorough reconnaissance on all targets. Based on this information, we determined the main targets: ammunition depots, concentrations of military units, and, for the most part, centres for training illegal armed formatdeions, or terrorists, to be more precise,"

Shoigu said.

"These targets also include plants that manufacture different means for inflicting heavy, not to say massive, damage on the population." Of particular focus in the campaign is the chemical warfare capabilities of the terrorist groups in northwest Syria. Shoigu noted that there had been two terrorist attacks using toxic gases in the past week, one that sickened 27 Syrian soldiers and killed 3, the second that sickened 30 people. "The main point is that it is clear that this is a well-developed industrial production line. It is these targets that are being attacked today, and these strikes will be continued,"

Shoigu said.

Shoigu noted that for the protection of Russian forces, an S-300 air defense system is posted in Tartus, while the S-400 has been at the Russian air base in Latakia for nearly a year, where Pantsir S1 short-range air-defense systems have also been deployed. Shoigu also reported that Russian technicians have, over the past four months, repaired and integrated the Syrian army’s S-200 air defense systems.

"They are now effectively protecting Syrian territory, as well as providing air protection for the eastern flank of our Tartus and Khmeimim bases," he said. With the Bastion systems on the coast, which are capable of attacking both seaborne and land-based targets, the Russians have effectively closed off any possible avenue of attack on Syria or Russian forces by the United States and its allies.

Al Masdar News reported that at least four Kalibr cruise missiles came down in Jaish al-Fateh-controlled areas near the town of Saraqib, about 45 kilometers southwest of Aleppo, while two more landed in Jabal al-Hoss, in the southwestern countryside of Aleppo province. Yesterday, Al Masdar reported that Russian jets were already hitting jihadi targets along the Aleppo-Damascus highway in Idlib province. According to a military source at the Hama Military Airport, the Russian Air Force managed to completely disrupt Jaysh Al-Fateh’s main supply line to Aleppo, forcing the latter to avoid using the highway from Saraqib to Khan Touman, southwest of Aleppo.

Al Masdar reported, separately, that for Jaish al Fateh, the situation has turned "from bad to worse," as it retreats westward along several axes. "We have them on the run and we are not stopping this time," a senior officer from the Syrian Arab Army told Al-Masdar.

"They sent thousands of terrorists from Idlib to Aleppo: where are they now? What will they do if we enter the Idlib province? Do they have the men to fight us off?"

Jaish Al-Fateh’s west Aleppo offensive was incredibly costly and its disastrous conclusion left their remaining forces in a weak defensive position along several axes, Al Masdar notes.

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