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.
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 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