MOSCOW (AFP) – Russian jets struck 94 targets in war-torn Syria over the past 24 hours, the highest one-day tally since the Kremlin began its month-old bombing campaign, the Russian defence ministry said Monday.
“In 59 sorties in the past 24 hours, Russia s air force hit 94 terrorist targets in the provinces of Hama, Idlib, Latakia, Damascus, Aleppo and Deir Ezzor,” the defence ministry said in a statement.
Moscow says the bombing campaign that began on September 30 targets Islamic State jihadists and other “terrorists,” but the West claims the strikes have focused on moderate rebels fighting Russian-backed President Bashar al-Assad s forces.
The defence ministry said the latest strikes had destroyed a command post and a base used by “terrorists” in the Alepporegion, as well as three defensive positions near the village of Salma in the coastal Latakia province.
The strikes also caused the destruction of an ammunition depot used by the Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front in Eastern Ghouta, some 50 kilometres northeast of Damascus, the ministry said.
Russian warplanes also hit an ammunition depot outside the city of Deir Ezzor and a convoy near the city of Palmyra in Homs province.
The Russian air force, which struck 285 targets in the past three days, is monitoring Syrian roads leading to conflict zones in an effort to disrupt rebel supply routes, Moscow said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said last week that Russia air strikes had killed at least 446 people, more than a third of them civilians.
The Kremlin on Monday insisted Russian forces had been carefully avoiding residential areas.
“Our military officers have said many times that terrorists often hide in residential areas,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti state news agency.
“In this case makes a choice not to hit residential neighbourhoods.”
On Monday, defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov dismissed a claim by the Syrian-American Medical Society that the Russian strikes had hit medical facilities, killing civilians and medical personnel.