Russian jets have struck a terrorist training camp northeast of Palmyra, destroying 24 vehicles and half a ton of explosive materials while killing up to 200 militants, the Russian military has announced.
After confirming intelligence about a camouflaged terrorist camp in the Syrian desert, the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out the airstrike, and destroyed two terrorist structures, “up to to 200 militants, 24 pickups with heavy machine guns, as well as about 500 kg of ammunition and components for creating improvised explosive devices,” Rear Admiral Aleksandr Karpov, deputy head of the the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria [RRCS], told reporters on Monday.
The base was used as a staging area for militants to make improvised explosive devices (IED) and send “battle groups” to carry out terrorist attacks across Syria, according to Karpov.
“Terrorists train in militant camps on the territory not controlled by Syrian authorities, including the zone of At-Tanf, which is controlled by US armed forces,” he added.
The US established a garrison at Tanf – along the road from Damascus to Baghdad – in 2016, against international law and over the objections of the Syrian government. Moscow and Damascus have repeatedly pointed out that the area serves as a de facto safe haven for militants carrying out terrorist attacks in Syria.
The admiral did not identify whether the militants belonged to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) or some other terrorist group – such as the Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham [HTS], which most notably operates in Idlib province under Turkish protection.
Russia intervened in Syria at the invitation of the government in Damascus in September 2015, when almost 70 percent of the country was in the hands of IS terrorists or other militants often described by Western media as “moderate rebels.” In addition to the naval base in Tartus, the Russian forces have operated out of the Khmeimim airbase in the Latakia province.
Since then, IS has lost all the territory it claimed and the anti-government militants have been reduced to the Idlib province and a Turkish-occupied strip along Syria’s northern border. US-backed Kurdish militias control the northeast of the country, while the US military directly controls the area around At-Tanf, on the border with Jordan in the south.