Russia says 180 IS fighters killed in Syria strikes
Moscow adds that operations took place after drones spotted jihadist fighters attempting to break through Syrian army defenses
MOSCOW, Russia — Russia said Saturday that airstrikes carried out this month had killed about 180 Islamic State jihadists in Syria, including two field commanders.
“As a result of June 6 and 8 aerial strikes on targets belonging to IS fighters, IS field commanders Abu Omar al-Belgiki and Abu Yasin al-Masri were killed” in Deir Ezzor, a province held mostly by IS forces, the defense ministry said in a statement carried by the Interfax news agency.
The ministry said that around 180 fighters were killed, and that 16 military vehicles were destroyed along with weapons stores.
It said the strikes took place after Russian forces using drones spotted preparations by IS fighters to break through the defenses of a garrison held by Syrian government forces in the city of Deir Ezzor.
The defense ministry did not make any mention of the possible death of Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, after saying Friday that it was seeking to verify whether he had been killed in a night raid in Syria last month.