A large-scale military operation against the terrorists stationed in Syria’s Homs and Idlib provinces has been launched, involving Russia’s Mediterranean naval battle group, said Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu.
Russian Admiral Grigorovich frigate targeted terrorists in Syria with Kalibr cruise missile strikes, while Sukhoi Su-33 fighter jets have been launched from the deck of the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, the flagship of the Russian Navy which has never taken part in a military operation since being built in 1985.
At a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the top leadership of the Russian Armed Forces, Shoigu said the following:
Today at 10:30 and 11:00 we launched a large-scale operation against the positions of Islamic State and Al-Nusra [terrorist groups] in the provinces of Idlib and Homs.
The main targets of the strikes are warehouses with ammunition, [terrorist] gatherings and terrorist training centers, as well as plants for the production of various kinds of weapons of mass destruction.
We are talking factories, not mere workshops, more specifically the plants for the production of all sorts of rather serious means of mass destruction. Clearly, this is a well-established industrial production, these are the targets for today’s strikes. And they will continue.
You are aware that we have sent a large group of our radiation, chemical and biological protection troops to determine the toxic substances which are being used by terrorists. Within the past week they used them twice – in one case, 27 people were hospitalized and three died, in the other case 30 people were hospitalized – I mean the Syrian Army soldiers.
The offensive comes after weeks of unilateral pause, including the humanitarian pause in Aleppo. Russia’s naval battle group arrived in the Mediterranean in early November. Since then, it has been conducting thorough surveillance and data gathering in preparation for strikes which were launched today and are expected to continue in the following days and perhaps even weeks.