Russia has deployed its fleet of strategic bombers to double the volume of airstrikes on Islamist targets in Syria, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has announced. Vladimir Putin has ordered a cruiser to coordinate operations with French naval forces in the Mediterranean.
“We are conducting a mass airstrike campaign against Islamic State targets in Syria. We have now doubled the number of sorties, which is allowing us to conduct operations throughout the length and breadth of the country,” Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said during a Security Council meeting in Moscow chaired by the Russian president.
Shoigu said that Russia’s Tu-95, Tu-22 and Tu-160 strategic bombers have been brought into the operation, while the Air Force command added that the strike group has been bolstered with 37 new planes, including Su-34 bombers and Su-27 fighter jets.
The head of the General Staff reported that the new phase of the anti-ISIS campaign will involve 25 long-range bombers flying out of airfields in Russia.
“By conducting military missions in Syria, you are protecting Russia and her citizens,” Putin told his military chiefs. “Our air campaign in Syria must not only be continued, it must be boosted, in such a way that the criminals are made aware that retribution is inevitable.”
The Russian president has issued orders for Russia’s Moskva cruiser, covering the Russian base in Latakia from the Mediterranean Sea, to work together with a French naval group led by flagship Charles De Gaulle, a 26 fighter-jet aircraft carrier, which is departing for Syria this week.