Russia Launches Massive Strikes On Aleppo And Idlib

November 15, 2016
Russian Sukhoi Su-24 bombers over Idlib today. Screenshot from STEP News Agency video

Live Updates: The previous post in our Putin in Syria column can be found here.

Russia Launches Massive Strikes On Aleppo And Idlib

The Russian military, in coordination with the Assad regime, has begun a major air offensive against rebel-held areas of Syria today, striking targets in the Aleppo, Idlib and Homs areas with air and sea-launched weaponry.

The Syrian Local Coordination Committees (LCC) also report parachute-retarded bombs being dropped by Russian jets on the Hanano and Haidaria neighborhoods in the northeast of the city, and the use of thermobaric weapons on the western suburbs of Babis and al-Atareb.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) report that a hospital in al-Atareb was struck last night by Russian jets:
Furthermore, the STEP News Agency reports that a high school in the town was bombed during the same wave of attacks:

Surface-launched missiles, whether from the Russian fleet in the Mediterranean or regime launchers on the ground, are reported to have struck several targets in the Aleppo area, including Tal Hadya and Saraqib, southwest of the city, and Jabal al-Hass, to the southeast.

Meanwhile this video shows two Russian Sukhoi Su-24 bombers, purportedly filmed over Idlib this morning: 

The LCC have reported the use of cluster bombs in strikes on the Idlib towns of Maarat al-Numan, Kansafra and Kafranbel.

The Russian defense minister, Sergei Shoigu today announced,during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, the commencement of a “large-scale operation to deliver strikes against terrorists,” putting the Russian naval task force deployed in the Mediterranean into combat.

Shoigu said that Kalibr crusise missiles had been launched from the Admiral Grigorovich frigate, while Sukhoi Su-33 jets had conducted operations from the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, which suffered an embarrassing setback yesterday with the loss of a MiG-29K fighter while preparing to land.

The Russian Ministry of Defense released footage of Su-33s launching from the Kuznetsov this morning: 

Notably, the aircraft seen taking off in the video carry only air-to-air missiles, no bombs.

The defense minister claimed that the focus of operations were positions belonging to ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra (the former name for Jabhat Fateh al-Sham) in the Idlib and Homs provinces. Notably, he refrained from mentioning Aleppo, the siege of which has garnered considerably more diplomatic attention this year than the ongoing devastation of these other areas.

— Pierre Vaux