Russia has already conducted more than 1,000 airstrikes in Syria this year amid a continued push to beat the Islamic State group, according to a top Kremlin general. As a result, hundreds of cities, towns and villages in Syria were liberated from ISIS control in 2015 and thus far in 2016, Lieutenant General Sergey Rudskoy, chief of the main operations department of the Russian General Staff, reportedly said.
Russian air force jets had hit military infrastructure, oil producing and processing facilities, and areas where militant military equipment was kept, said Rudskoy, according to a report by Tass, a Russian news site based in Moscow.
"A total of 311 sorties have been made over the first 10 days of 2016 during which strikes were delivered at 1,097 facilities in the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Latakia, Hama, Homs, Damascus, Deir ez-Zor, Hasakeh, Deraa and Raqqa," said Rudskoy. "In December 2015, militants were driven from 134 cities and towns and from 19 settlements more in the first days of the new year."
Russia has delivered over 1,000 airstrikes in Syria since start of year — general https://t.co/kER3hvMqZn
— TASS (@tassagency_en) January 11, 2016
The news comes as at least a dozen school children and multiple adults were reportedly killed Monday after a Russian airstrike hit a Syrian school. At least 20 other people in the town of Anjara were injured from the bombings, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported Agence France-Presse.
Prior to Monday's report of innocent casualties, Russia's biggest airstrike successes had been achieved in the provinces of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama, Homs, and Raqqah, according to Rudskoy. Anjara is in Aleppo province.
Russia first became involved militarily in Syria at the end of September, just a few weeks after supplying the military under the command of Syria’s authoritarian President Bashar Assad with new weapons and guidance. U.S. officials are keen to work with Russia to contain and destroy ISIS, but Washington, D.C., is concerned about Moscow’s insistence to keep Assad’s regime in power.
While U.S. and its coalition partners began airstrikes more than a year ago, Russia’s inclusion in the fight against ISIS appears to have made a significant dent in the terror group’s ambitions to build a caliphate in Syria and Iraq.
At the end of December, U.S. officials were quoted as being admirers of Russia’s cost-effective and relentless campaign in Syria, although the two former Cold War rivals are yet to make a formal agreement on cooperation in Syria.