Russia said Friday that it had carried out a massive bombing campaign against Islamic State targets in Syria.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to President Vladimir Putin that Russian warplanes had destroyed 15 oil facilities and more than 500 fuel trucks in bombings this week, in a bid to cripple the economic and financial foundations of Islamic State.
Shoigu also said Russia's navy had fired 18 cruise missiles Friday from ships in the Caspian Sea at targets in the provinces of Raqqa, Idlib and Aleppo. He said seven targets were hit.
He said airstrikes had inflicted major casualties, including more than 600 militants killed in one strike in the province of Deir ez-Zour in eastern Syria.
Deir ez-Zour lies between the IS stronghold of Raqqa and territory the terrorists also control in neighboring Iraq, making it strategically important.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group told the French news agency AFP that 36 people had been killed in at least 50 airstrikes on various neighborhoods in the city and nearby oil fields.
AFP quoted an observatory spokesman as saying it was “the worst bombardment of the region since the start of the uprising in 2011.”
The U.S. has also conducted airstrikes in Syria and Iraq in the past week. U.S. Air Force Colonel Patrick Ryder told reporters Friday that the U.S.-led coalition had increased its airstrikes this week against a variety of targets, using more weapons than in any other seven-day period since the strikes began.
“We are now putting pressure on the enemy on multiple fronts,” Ryder said. “As a result, ISIL is forced to make tough resourcing decisions.”
He elaborated, “It is making it harder for ISIL to move much-needed supplies and replacement fighters around the battlefield. It is helping to curb the flow of foreign fighters, and it is crippling his ability to access a number of his key sources of revenue.”
Earlier this week, Russia concluded that a bomb brought down a Russian jetliner in the Sinai Peninsula last month, shortly after it took off from Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh resort bound for St. Petersburg. All 224 people aboard were killed.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for downing the aircraft, as it did for last week's deadly terrorist attacks in Paris.
Within hours after Russia concluded that terrorists had taken down the jetliner, Putin launched massive strikes on Raqqa, the Islamic State group's self-proclaimed capital in northern Syria.