Russian vessels deployed to the Mediterranean have fired cruise missiles at Daesh targets inside Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry says.
The missiles were fired from two Russian warships and a submarine at targets inside the western Syrian province of Hama on Friday, it said.
“As a result of the surprise mass missile strike, command points were destroyed and also large stores of weapons and ammunition of the IS (Daesh) terrorists in the area of Aqirbat in the Hama Province,” the ministry said.
It added that Russian planes then carried out aerial strikes that “destroyed the remainder of the IS fighters and their facilities.”
Russia has also been conducting an aerial bombardment campaign against terrorist positions in Syria on a request by Damascus.
Russia has been conducting cruise missile strikes and aerial attacks against terrorist positions in Syria on a request from the Syrian government.
Russia ‘nearly 100 percent certain Baghdadi has been killed’
Meanwhile on Friday, Viktor Ozerov, the head of the defense committee in the upper house of the Russian parliament, said Russia was almost 100 percent sure that the leader of Daesh, Ibrahim al-Samarrai aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had been killed in an airstrike carried out by the Russian Air Force in Syria last month.
“I think this information is close to 100 percent [in certainty],” Interfax quoted Ozerov as saying. “The fact that Islamic State [Daesh] has still not shown him anywhere also adds to our confidence that al-Baghdadi has been killed.”
On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry had said it was “highly likely” that Baghdadi, had been killed. Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov told Sputnik news agency that the information about Baghdadi’s likely death was now being verified through “various channels.”
The Friday statement by the Russian Defense Ministry said that Turkish and Israeli militaries “were informed in a timely manner of the missile launches through communication channels” but made no mention of the United States.
Russia has suspended communications with the US, which used to be carried out via a hotline set up to prevent accidental military confrontations over Syrian airspace. The US is present in Syria as part of a coalition that purports to be fighting Daesh but that has not received permission from Damascus.
The suspension of the military contact came after a US warplane hit a Syrian Su-22 aircraft with a missile last Sunday. The US claimed that it had targeted the plane “in collective self-defense of coalition-partnered forces” in the city of Taqba in northern Syria.
Moscow says Washington had failed to inform it about the hit. A day later, the Russian Ministry threatened to treat aircraft with the coalition “as air targets” if they flew in areas west of the Euphrates River.
The Pentagon responded by saying it would “defend” itself and “our partners if threatened.”