Russia has launched a merciless blanket air campaign, backed by Kalibr cruise missiles fired from the Caspian and Mediterranean Seas, for the object of wiping the Islamic State’s Syrian center of Raqqa off the map, debkafile’s military sources report.
Western and Middle East sources tracking the campaign since Friday, Nov. 20, report that at least 75 air sorties have been conducted and are systematically razing the town of 200,000 inhabitants 160km east of Aleppo, district by district, irrespective of civilian town dwellers.
Moscow wants the entire Middle East and Muslim world to see the price exacted for launching a terrorist attack on Russia after the downing of the Metrojet airliner that killed 224 people over Egyptian Sinai on Oct. 31. Russian bombers and cruise missiles rained death and destruction on the ISIS administration center after the jihadists claimed responsibility for that disaster and published photos of a soft drink can claimed to have been rigged as a bomb for blowing the plane up.
When the Russians are done, the town will be a pile of rubble, an intelligence source told debkafile.
The Russian defense ministry ran photos Friday of Russian technicians loading bombs on the Tupolev 95 bombers (dubbed “Bears” in the West). Ground crews marked the bombs “For ours,” and “For Paris.”
Last Tuesday, our military sources first revealed that the Tupolev’s were taking off from Morozovsk air base in the Rostov district of southern Russia instead of from the Russian military enclave outside the Syrian town of Latakia.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported Friday that 15 Syrian oil facilities seized by ISIS had been destroyed this week and 525 of their trucks, costing the jihadists $1.5 million a day in revenue.
As for casualties, the published figure of 600 jihadists killed in one day is probably far below the real figure. Our sources report that the Islamist terrorists’ death toll most probably runs into thousands with many more injured.
To sustain the hectic tempo of its aerial war, Moscow has doubled the number of bombers assigned to Syria from 34 two weeks ago to 69 by Saturday, Nov. 21.
Our military sources add that this augmented air power allows the Russians to expand their targets to other parts of Syria. On Friday, they renewed sorties against Syrian rebel forces holding the southern town of Deraa near the Jordanian border.