Russia sends heavy bombers to fight ISIS in Syria

Bad weather conditions have hindered attempts by the Syrian military to fight off an intensive ISIS offensive against the city of Deir Ezzor.

TU-22M3 Bomber

Six Tu-22M3 bombers were deployed from Russian territories yesterday to carry out bombing operations against Islamic State (IS) targets in the Syrian Government-held Deir ez-Zor province.

The Russian Defense Ministry announced that the bombers were successful in carrying out their mission objective of targeting terrorist camps, ammunition depots, armored vehicles, and enemy manpower. Sukhoi Su-30SM and Su-35S from the Khmeimim Air Base in Latakia, Syria were also flown to escort the bombers, with all Russian aircraft promptly returning to their respective bases after their operations.

The Dier ez-Zor province in Eastern Syria has been the site of intensive fighting between government forces and the IS, who have tightened its siege against a military airport and sites wherein the World Food Programme (WFP) have regularly conducted airdrops of supplies.

With the on-going siege of the airport and control of airdrop locations, IS fighters have cut off food supplies for over a quarter of a million civilians who have taken refuge in the government-held areas, which could be a prelude to a humanitarian disaster.

On 20 January, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova expressed concerns over the silence of international human rights organizations over the plight of civilians suffering on the besieged province.

Deir ez-Zor is regarded by the IS as a strategic area given its proximity to key oil fields, which were a crucial financial lifeline for IS, and to the Syria-Iraq border. The province is near the the IS supply line, which was used to smuggle more fighters across the Syria-Iraqi border.

IS fighters have attempted to conduct intensified infiltration operations around the military airports, but have been forestalled by the determined defense of the Syrian Republican Guard with help from Russian air strikes.

Last year, Flight Instructor Andrew Krasnoperov told Russia’s Federal News Agency that the use of long-range strategic strike bombers shows a serious intention to destroy the ISIS organization.

“The use of precision high-explosive bombs enables Tu-22M3 to destroy entire towns of Islamists to the ground. The maximum bomb load of such an aircraft is 24 tons, so imagine what was happening at the headquarters of the militants, when the first bombs reached the ground”, said the flight-instructor.

Read more on the Russian Military in Syria

Miguel is an international realtions analyst and writer with aspirations to become part of the Philippine Academia. He is currently working on his papers to pursue a Master's degree overseas on Global Security with an Asiatic perspective.

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