ISIS and al-Nusra Front Greatly Weakened by Russian Air Strikes

Since the Russian air campaign began in Syria on September 30th there has been continuous sorties undertaken by ground attack aircraft. Over the last 72 hrs Russian pilots have targeted 448 terrorist facilities across the country, including Aleppo, Damascus, Idlib, Latakia, Raqqa, Hama and Homs. Russia has steadily been increasing pressure on Jabat al-Nursa, and ISIS. While diplomatic wrangling continues among Western nations as to a course of action, the air campaign has garnered less and less attention in the media. However, it must be taken into account that not only are the air strike continuing, they may be having an effect on the ground. Since beginning, a number of high profile al-Nursa Front commanders have been successfully targeted, and a possible al-Nursa/ISIS combined operation stifled. As a result of Russia’s direct military action, regional powers and the United States have met in Vienna to discuss the key issues, which is significant after 4 years of vacillation as regard to which course of action to take in relation to the problems in Damascus.

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Burnt out T-55 MBT

Over the last three days, Russian jets made 137 sorties in the Syrian Arab Republic and destroyed 448 facilities of terrorist infrastructure in the provinces, flying in support of the Syrian Army’s ground offensive, according to Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry. He went on to specify that in Latakia province, Russian aircraft targeted and struck a mortar position belonging to Jabhat al-Nusra.“A direct hit led to the destruction of four mortars and an ammunition depot,” Konashenkov said. Al-Nusra facilities were also targeted in Hama province, where a terrorist repair shop with armored vehicles inside was destroyed.

“An airstrike by a Su-24M bomber destroyed a hangar with four tanks and one APC inside,” the Defense Ministry spokesman said.

In Idlib, the Russian military jets leveled a major command center of Jabhat al-Nusra, which coordinated the terrorists’ actions in both Idlib and Aleppo provinces. In the suburbs of Zerba, in the Idlib Province, further building on the successful targeting of the al- Nursa’s command and control capabilities.

What is clear is that Russian air power is having a profound and direct effect not only in terms of the targeting high level leaders but also forcing terrorist groups to reorganize and change their tactics in an effort to negate the effects of the Russian strikes. Regularly relocating their positions in an attempt to hide from strikes, by both Syrian government troops ground offensive and Russian air strikes, terrorists and militants have less time to prepare defensive positions to stop ground attacks.

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