US, Russian Strikes Continue in Syria, Iraq
by VOA News October 10, 2015
Syrian troops backed by Russian airstrikes seized control of a village in central Syria on Saturday amid fierce clashes with rebels, part of a ground offensive launched earlier this week.
That offensive marked the first major air-and-ground assault since Moscow began its military campaign in the country on September 30. Russian officials say their airstrikes are targeting mainly Islamic State militants, but most of the strikes are hitting areas where the extremist group is not present.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that Russian planes flew 64 sorties and targeted 54 sites in the past 24 hours. Among the sites attacked, it said, were command outposts in Aleppo and Idlib provinces.
Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has insisted its airstrikes are targeting the Islamic State group and other terrorists. But U.S. officials said this week that Russia has directed parts of its air campaign against U.S.-funded groups and other moderate opposition groups in a concerted effort to weaken them.
Defense officials from the United States and Russia held a 90-minute video conference call Saturday to discuss safe flight operations over Syria, according to the Pentagon.
'The discussions were professional and focused narrowly on the implementation of specific safety procedures,' the U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement released Saturday. 'Progress was made during the talks, and the U.S. agreed to another discussion with Russia in the near future.'
Coalition targets IS
In the meantime, the U.S.-led coalition targeted Islamic State in Syria with five airstrikes on Friday, and also hit the militant group with 20 bombardments in Iraq, according to a statement released Saturday.
The Combined Joint Task Force said the Syria strikes hit tactical units near Al Hasakah, Ar Raqqah, Manbij and Mar'a and also destroyed tactical vehicles and a building belonging to Islamic State in those areas. Near Palmyra, a strike destroyed or damaged Islamic State front-end loaders, tractorlike equipment that is used in construction, it said.
Four attacks concentrated near Ramadi in Iraq struck two Islamic State tactical units, and also destroyed a preparation area, a front-end loader, a heavy machine gun and six fighting positions. They also 'denied ISIL access to terrain,' the statement said, using a common acronym for Islamic State. The area near Sultan Abdallah also had heavy bombardment, with three strikes destroying a vehicle-bomb factory and storage facility.
Coalition nations conducting strikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting strikes in Syria include the United States, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, France, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
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