Russia strikes IS militants fleeing Raqqa to regime areas

Russia strikes IS militants fleeing Raqqa to regime areas
IS forces fleeing the besieged city of Raqqa are now being targeted by the Russia air force, as it appears the militants are retreating towards regime territory.
2 min read
01 June, 2017
Russia has been aiding the Syrian regime since 2015 [AFP]

Russia says it is cutting off an Islamic State group retreat to Palmyra, as the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces surround the jihadi stronghold of Raqqa. 

Moscow said it bombed IS convoys leaving their de-facto capital as they headed south to Palmyra on 25 May and overnight from May 29 to May 30. 

The second strike destroyed dozens of cars and pickup trucks and killed scores of IS fighters, the ministry claimed in a statement. 

"Russian commanders in Syria have warned that any attempt by IS fighters to leave Raqqa through the open corridor towards Palmyra will be decisively intercepted," the ministry said. 

The news comes after Russia fired four cruise missiles from a submarine and warship in the Mediterranean Sea at IS fighters who had moved close to Palmyra from Raqqa.  

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are now at the gates of Raqqa from the north, west and east.

Russia has previously suggested that Kurdish forces have wilfully allowed IS to leave the city towards areas controlled by the Syrian regime.  

Moscow is one of Bashar al-Assad's main military backers, having entered the war in September 2015 providing air support. 

Russian-backed forces retook Palmyra city and its UNESCO site from IS in March after miltiants ousted regime forces for a second time following Damascus' brutal assault on rebel-held east Aleppo. 

Agencies contributed to this story