The previous post in our Putin in Syria column can be found here.
Russian jets have continued to pound rebel-held areas of the Hama, Idlib and Aleppo regions, aiding the Syrian regime in retaking the village of Atshat, north of Hama.
State propaganda channel RT ran the following report from Atshat, during which the reporter, Murad Gazdiev, claims that the town had previously been held by Jabhat al-Nusra (JaN), an al-Qaeda affiliate.
There is not, however any evidence we have seen that fighters from JaN itself were operating in Atshan.
To further add to the confusion, right after cutting from Gazdiev in Syria back to the studio presenter, RT ran Russian military footage of airstrikes on a position in Atshan, which was labelled as an “ISIL hideout.”
Today, video footage purportedly filmed in Tall Sukayk, around three kilometres west of Atshan, showed fighter from no Islamist faction, but the US-backed 13th Division of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
Russian bombers have struck these same forces.
Major General Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defence, claimed today that a Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-25 attack jet had:
“delivered a strike on a road-mobile mortar position of the militants near Tall Sukayk in the Hama province. Three cross-country vehicles carrying mortars and an ammunition truck were destroyed in the precision strike.”
Konashenkov also reported that another Su-25 had struck a truck convoy “carrying ammunition and fuel to ISIS terrorists” near Sukayk, further along the road from Tall Sukayk.
In addition, Interfax reported that the spokesman had claimed that a Su-24M had dropped a GLONASS-guided bomb on an “ISIS control post” in the Hama province.
To the west, heavy fighting continues around the town of Kafr Nabudah, with reports today of an attempted regime assault on the town, supported by Russian aircraft.
Meanwhile further north-west, in the hills on the edge of the Latakia province, rebel forces are reported to have made gains despite Russian air strikes.
This Russian MOD video purportedly shows an air strike near Salma, in the Latakia province:
The Ministry today claimed that the strike had destroyed an ISIS transfer point.
From the state-owned Sputnik agency:
“As a result of a pinpoint strike of Su-24M bombers near Salma settlement (Lattakia province), fragmentation air bombs destroyed a large ISIS transfer point with underground facilities and ammunition depots detected by means of space reconnaissance,” Konashenkov said, “Detonation of munitions caused large fire. The object was completely destroyed.”
There are numerous reports that Durin, south-west of Salma, has been captured by opposition forces.