Russia says its counter-terrorism airstrikes in Syria have killed a total of 180 militants — among them dozens of foreign mercenaries — over the past 24 hours.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement on Saturday that an air raid near the city of Abu Kamal in the eastern Dayr al-Zawr Province had targeted a Daesh outpost, killing some 40 militants from Tajikistan and Iraq dead and destroying 7 vehicles with machine guns mounted on them.
A separate strike close to the city of Mayadin, also situated in Dayr al-Zawr, killed up to 80 terrorists, including nine from the Northern Caucasus, and demolished 18 vehicles and three ammunition depots, he said.
Another Russian aerial attack south of Dayr al-Zawr killed “a group of over 60 foreign mercenaries originating from CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries, Tunisia, and the Arab Republic of Egypt,” he added.
Russia has been conducting air raids against Daesh and other terrorist groups inside Syria at the Damascus government’s request since September 2015.
“After additional reconnaissance and confirmation of the objectives by the Russian command in Syria, we planned an operation to destroy Daesh command posts, manpower, and armored vehicles of in this area by the missile and airstrikes,” Konashenkov said.
He further warned that a “large numbers of foreign mercenaries” were infiltrating into the Syrian territory from the Iraqi border.
Russia, he said, had obtained information that “influential Daesh field commanders, natives of the North Caucasus: Abu Omar al-Shishani, Alyauddin Al-Shishani and Salahuddin al-Shishani” were among the fatalities of the latest strikes.
On Wednesday, Konashenkov said a Russian air raid had critically injured one of the leaders of the so-called Tahrir al-Sham militant group and killed a dozen of his field commanders as well as around 50 of his bodyguards.
Abu Mohamad al-Golani was targeted in an intelligence-led special operation while he was meeting his commanders, he said.
Golani was the head of the Nusra Front terrorist group before it merged with other militant outfits to form the so-called Tahrir al-Sham in January 2017. He is now said to have fallen into a coma.