In a show of strategic capability, Russia launched 25 long-range strategic bombers with fighter escort into Syria to strike Islamic State targets, launching cruise missiles and dropping unguided bombs.
The Russian state news agency, TASS, reported on Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu’s comments to Russian President Vladimir Putin: “Today, in a period from 05:00 a.m. to 05:30 a.m. Moscow time, twelve Tu-22 bombers hit Islamic State targets in Raqqah; in a period from 09:00 a.m. to 09:40 a.m. Tu-160 and Tu-95MS strategic bombers fired 34 air-launched cruise missiles at terrorist targets in the provinces of Aleppo and Idlib. A total of 127 sorties against 206 terrorist targets were scheduled for Tuesday, of which 82 sorties have already been flown and 140 targets have been hit. The operation is underway.”
“To fulfill your orders to intensify strikes against targets of the Islamic State and other extremist organizations, the General Staff has worked out a plan of further air operation,” he continued. “Along with the intensification of sorties from the Hmeymim airbase in Syria, the plan provides to involve an extra of 25 long-range planes, eight Sukhoi-34 bombers, four Sukhoi-27SM fighter jets.”
The bomber aircraft were launched from bases within the Russian Federation and was the first combat use of the TU-160 Blackjack strategic platform. In addition to striking the Islamic State, Russia is sending a message to NATO by showcasing its long-range strike capability.
Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.