Russian raids on Islamic State group targets in the Syrian city of Raqqa Thursday reportedly forced leaders of the jihadi militant group to flee the de facto capital city of its self-proclaimed caliphate. Jet fighters acting on orders from Moscow have conducted hundreds of raids since commencing military actions against the terror group in late September.
"The local residents watched senior [Islamic State group] leaders and commanders fleeing the Syrian city of Raqqa after the terrorist group had suffered serious losses under the Russian airstrikes and cruise missiles fired by the Russian navy," said a source who spoke to the Iranian news agency FARS Thursday. Iran is a close ally of Russia.
Further airstrikes by Russian warplanes had also totally disrupted the terrorists’ command system in several Syrian provinces, said Col. Gen. Andrei Kartapolov, head of the Main Operations Directorate of the Russian Army General Staff, Russia's government-backed news site Tass reported Thursday. "The terrorist command system in Homs province was completely disrupted due to the losses. We have registered incidences of refusal to fulfill the assigned tasks," Kartapolov said.
— syria 24 english (@syria24english) October 28, 2015
Russian officials are claiming that the speed with which they have hit the Islamic State group -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- in recent attacks has forced field commanders to evacuate dead jihadi militants’ corpses from the battlefield at night and dump them in mass graves.
"As far as we know, in view of the fact that huge losses make it impossible to bury all the fighters according to the Islamic tradition, the field commanders have decided to dump the bodies of ordinary militants in cesspits," Kartapolov told journalists at a briefing, according to Tass.
While the Russian military is acting alone in its airstrikes against ISIS, it is cooperating on the ground with Syrian ground troops loyal to its authoritarian leader, Bashar Assad. In recent days, Moscow and Washington, D.C., have attempted to set aside diplomatic differences on the future of Assad to work together. Russia supports Assad while the U.S. want him to stand down.
France will be upping its cooperation with the U.S and Russia in the coming weeks as it launches a major offensive against ISIS in the wake of the deadly Paris attacks last week when at least 129 people were killed. The Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier is due to arrive in the eastern Mediterranean on Thursday or Friday.