France launched air strikes against ISIS targets in Iraq on Monday in the first sorties from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, newly deployed in the eastern Mediterranean, France’s armed forces chief of staff said.
“We carried out strikes in Ramadi and Mosul in support of ground forces that were pushing against Daesh troops,” General Pierre de Villiers said aboard the carrier, referring to ISIS with its Arabic acronym.
Meanwhile, Moscow said on Monday its warplanes had hit 472 targets in war-torn Syria in the past two days, including tanker trucks and oil infrastructure in territory controlled by ISIS.
“In 141 combat sorties in the past two days, warplanes of the Russian airforce struck 472 terrorist targets in the provinces of Aleppo, Damascus, Idlib, Latakia, Hama, Homs, Raqa and Deir Ezzor,” the Russian defence ministry said in a statement.
The military said that the latest strikes had destroyed 80 tanker trucks near ISIS stronghold of Raqa, as well as a large oil storage tank and an oil refinery south of the city.
Fuel reserves some 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of Deir Ezzor were also destroyed in the strikes, the defence ministry said.
Russia hunting ISIS oil
The Russian defence ministry said last week that it was “hunting” oil transporters in a bid to cut ISIS financing and claimed that in the past five days some 1,000 fuel trucks had been destroyed.
The Russian military claimed that “terrorists” had suffered “serious losses” in Saraqib, a city in the northwestern province of Idlib province, and in the town of Qalaat al-Madiq in the Hama province.
President Vladimir Putin last week ordered the intensification of Moscow’s bombing campaign in Syria after confirming that the Russian passenger plane that crashed in Egypt’s Sinai last month, killing all 224 people on board, had been brought down by a bomb.
Russia says its air strikes target ISIS and other “terrorists,” but the West has previously said that Russia is targeting moderate opposition factions fighting the Moscow-backed regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The defence ministry on Monday dismissed as “unfounded” the United States’ claim its strikes were not targeting ISIS.
“As always these (claims) are unfounded, without concrete details or facts, citing unnamed sources,” the defence ministry said.
Assad said in an interview published Sunday that government troops were advancing on “nearly every front” thanks to the Russian air strikes, with Syrian state media reporting the regime had taken control over Maheen and Hawareen in the southeast of Homs province.
U.S., allies also target ISIS oil facility
The United States and its allies conducted additional strikes against ISIS over the weekend, including two in Syria that destroyed nearly 300 ISIS vehicles and an oil facility, the coalition leading the operations said.
On Saturday, two strikes near Dayr Az Zawr and Al Hasaka destroyed 283 Islamic State vehicles and one of the militant group’s crude oil collection points, according to a coalition statement released on Monday.
The two were in addition to nine strikes in Syria on Saturday reported earlier by the U.S.-led task force.
On Sunday, the coalition conducted 19 strikes against ISIS near 11 Iraqi cities and 14 near five Syrian cities, the statement said.
Four of the strikes near Hasaka, Syria, hit three ISIS tactical units and four structures, while four other strikes near Ayn Isa hit four other units, among other targets, according to the coalition.
In Iraq, five strikes near Ramadi destroyed two ISIS tactical units, an improvised explosive device, fighting positions and other targets, while three strikes near Falluja struck another tactical unit, it added.
(With AFP, Reuters)