The Russian military has launched a large-scale operation against terrorists in Homs and Idlib provinces of Syria, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Tuesday. It includes the first-ever combat mission involving Russia’s aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov.
“Today at 10:30 and 11:00 we launched a large-scale operation against the positions of Islamic State and Al-Nusra [terrorist groups] in the provinces of Idlib and Homs,” Shoigu said at a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the top leadership of the Russian Armed Forces.
The Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, the flagship of the Russian Navy, is also taking part, Shoigu said. This is the first time the Admiral Kuznetsov has taken part in a military operation. Sukhoi Su-33 fighter jets have been launched from the deck of the carrier, the defense minister said.”The main targets of the strikes are warehouses with ammunition, [terrorist] gatherings and terrorist training centers, as well as plants for the production of various kinds of weapons of mass destruction of the population,” Shoigu detailed.
He stressed that terrorists had actual factories, not merely workshops, for weapons production. “They are factories, not workshops, more specifically the plants for the production of all sorts of rather serious means of mass destruction.””Clearly, this is a well-established industrial production, these are the targets for today’s strikes. And they will continue,” the minister stated.
The minister noted that the Russian military had thoroughly surveilled the targets before striking them, choosing the most important.
“You are aware that we have sent a large group of our radiation, chemical and biological protection troops to determine the toxic substances which are used by terrorists. Within the past week they used them twice – in one case, 27 people were hospitalized and three died, in the other case 30 people were hospitalized – I mean the Syrian Army soldiers,” Shoigu said.
Journalists asked presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov about the possibility of the operation which started on Tuesday to be expanded to include Aleppo.
“Aleppo has not been mentioned in the report of the defense minister; it concerned other areas – Homs and Idlib [provinces],” Peskov told the press.