Moscow, Oct 7: At least 120 fighters of the Islamic State (ISIS) were killed in the air raids carried out by Russian forces over the past 24 hours, Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Saturday. The operation against ISIS militants was carried out in the al-Mayadeen area of Deir Az Zor, one of the last remaining bastions of the terror group.
Apart from the killing of 120 ISIS militants, nearly 60 “foreign mercenaries” were killed in the air raids, the Ministry claimed. The mercenaries are believed to have come to Syria from Iraq, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and some Muslim majority parts of the erstwhile Soviet Union.
The province of Deir Az Zor was largely reclaimed by the pro-Bashar-al-Assad forces in August. ISIS was wiped out from most of the territories, except the al-Mayadeen region.
Russia, which played a pro-active role in the liberation of Deir Az Zor from the captivity of ISIS, is accused by rights’ group of causing “massive collateral damage”. Moscow, however, denies targeting the civilian areas, accusing its critics of being a part of the western propaganda.
The most recent charge against Russia came a day earlier when the Britain-based Human Rights’ Observatory Group accused its forces of killing 14 civilians, including 3 children in an air raid carried out near the Euphrates in Al Mayadeen region.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would continue to support Assad till Syria is “completely sanitised”. Apart from the ISIS base in al-Mayadeen region, Moscow is also targeting the insurgents in northwest Idlib province, where the militants are linked to al-Qaeda’s Jabhat-al-Nusra Front.