Syria: 21 ISIS jihadists killed in Russian raids

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At least 21 jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) group have perished in more than 100 strikes carried out by Russian air force in different regions of Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH) said on Saturday.

The NGO reported 21 jihadists killed in “at least 130 airstrikes (…) carried out in the last 24 hours by the Russian air force and targeting the Islamic State organization”.

The strikes were carried out “in an area straddling the provinces of Aleppo, Hama and Raqa” in northern Syria, as well as “in the desert of the regions of Homs (center) and Deir Ezzor (east)” .

According to the Observatory, half of the jihadists perished in the strikes on Deir Ezzor.

The raids, which continued on Saturday morning, follow a series of attacks carried out in the same regions by ISIS on Friday against regime forces and its allies, which killed at least eight pro-Damascus militiamen, d ‘after OSDH.

Despite the fall in March 2019 of its “caliphate”, which was proclaimed in 2014 to straddle Syria and Iraq, ISIS still has a network of fighters carrying out deadly attacks in Syria.

Increasingly regular battles between jihadists and regime forces, supported by its allies, have taken place in recent months in the Badiya Desert, which stretches from the central province of Homs to that of Deir. Ezzor, on the border with Iraq.

Often, “Russian strikes in Badiya target small groups of IS fighters or their vehicles,” OSDH director Rami Abdel Rahmane told AFP.

Their tracking is “difficult (…) because IS fighters do not have fixed positions”, he added.

Since March 2019, more than 1,300 regime fighters have been killed in the clashes, as well as 145 members of pro-Iran militias, against more than 750 ISIS jihadists, according to OSDH.

According to a UN report published in early February, the jihadist group has “10,000 active combatants”, including “a few thousand” foreigners, in Syria and Iraq.

Triggered in March 2011 by the repression of pro-democracy protests, the war in Syria has left more than 387,000 dead and displaced millions of people. It has become more complex over the years, with the intervention of several foreign powers and the rise of jihadist groups.

Russia has been supporting Syrian government forces since 2015, and thanks to this crucial support, Bashar al-Assad has been able to reclaim much of the territory he lost at the start of the conflict.