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Russia kills ‘180 IS fighters’ in Syria airstrikes

Russia has been the Assad regime's major backer. [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 June, 2017

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Russia says it has killed 180 Islamic State fighters in Syria during airstrikes carried out in June, including two field commanders.

Russia says it has killed 180 Islamic State fighters in Syria during airstrikes carried out in June, including two field commanders.

"As a result of June 6 and 8 aerial strikes on targets belonging to IS fighters, IS field commanders Abu Omar al-Belgiki and Abu Yasin al-Masri were killed" in Deir ez-Zor, a province held mostly by IS forces, the defence ministry said in a statement on Saturday carried by the Interfax news agency.

Around 180 fighters were killed and 16 military vehicles were destroyed along with weapons stores, the ministry said.

The airstrikes took place after Russian forces identified using drones IS fighters preparing to break through the defences of a garrison held by Syrian regime forces in Deir ez-Zor.

The defence ministry did not make any further mention of the possible death of Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, after saying Friday that it was seeking to verify whether he had been killed in a night raid in Syria last month.

Russia had said Su-34 and Su-35 warplanes attacked an IS military council meeting south of the group's de-facto capital of Raqqa in northern Syria on May 28 and that the US was informed in advance of the raid.

Most of the Russian war effort in Syria has focused on opponents of Assad. However, Moscow has made sure to score symbolic victories against IS from time to time to justify its intervention in the war-ravaged nation, helping to recapture the iconic ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) from the extremists, twice, to much fanfare.

The US-led coalition fighting IS in Syria and Iraq has said it cannot confirm Baghdadi's death.

No comment has come from IS' own 'news agency' Amaq

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