Beirut (AFP) – A wave of air strikes by government ally Russia killed at least 21 ISIS extremists in the Syrian desert over the past 24 hours, a monitor said Saturday.
The 21 were killed in at least 130 air strikes “carried out over the past 24 hours by the Russian air force targeting the ‘Islamic State’ group in an area on the edge of the provinces of Aleppo, Hama and Raqqa”, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The raids, which continued into Saturday, follow a series of ISIS attacks Friday on government and allied forces that killed at least eight members of a pro-Damascus militia, the Britain-based monitor said.
In recent months, the vast desert, known in Arabic as the Badia, has been the scene of increasingly frequent fighting between the extremists and government forces backed by Russian air power.
ISIS overran large parts of Syria and Iraq and proclaimed a cross-border “caliphate” in 2014, before multiple offensives in the two countries led to its territorial defeat.
The extremists continue to launch attacks, mostly in the Badia desert which stretches from the central province of Homs to the border with Iraq.
More than 1,300 government troops have been killed in these clashes, as well as 145 pro-Iran militia members and more than 750 ISIS extremists, according to the Observatory.
Since Syria’s civil war broke out in 2011, more than 387,000 people have been killed and millions forced from their homes.