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US Hits Russian Tanks Seized by Islamic State Near Palmyra

A view of equipment in a Russian base in what is said to be Palmyra, Syria in this still image taken from video uploaded to social media on Dec. 13, 2016. According to a Navy spokesman on Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, coalition airstrikes destroyed Russian and Syrian weapons taken by the Islamic State.

The U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Syria and Iraq has destroyed 14 Russian tanks captured from Russian and Syrian military forces near the city of Palmyra.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters Friday coalition airstrikes also targeted three artillery systems, two Islamic State-held buildings, two tactical vehicles and Russian anti-aircraft guns that had been captured by the militants.

The equipment was destroyed in the vicinity of an airfield northeast of Palmyra. Davis said 16 coalition aircraft fired a total of 22 munitions during the strikes.

Lt. General Stephen Townsend, the U.S. general leading the fight against Islamic State, told reporters earlier this week that if Syrian and Russian forces failed to take back their losses at Palmyra, the U.S. would strike Islamic State there.

“We will do what we need to do to defend ourselves,” the general said Wednesday.

He said Russia and Syria “probably took their eye off the ball in Palmyra" and failed to secure their gains "because they were so focused on Aleppo.”

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.

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