Senior Russian commander killed in Syria by IS shelling

Senior Russian commander killed in Syria by IS shelling
Russian General Valeri Assapov has been killed after an IS shell landed close to him in Syria's Deir az-Zour province, Moscow's defence minister has said.
2 min read
25 September, 2017
Russian troops are helping with guard duties in Deir az-Zour [AFP-file photo]
One of Russia's most senior commanders in Syria has been killed by shelling in Deir az-Zour province, Moscow's defence ministry said on Sunday.

Russia's General Valeri Assapov died when a shell fired by the Islamic State group exploded close to his position in eastern Syria.

"Division General Valeri Assapov was killed when a shell exploded during shelling by IS fighters," the ministry said.

Assapov was serving as an adviser to Syrian regime forces in the area. He is the most senior Russian officer to die in Syria's war.

Syrian regime forces backed by Russian airpower have captured large areas of Deir az-Zour province from the Islamic State group in recent weeks, as US-backed Kurdish forces enter from the north.

A siege on government enclaves in the provincial capital has been broken during the offensive.

Russia's military intervention in Syria began with the bombing of rebel positions in September 2015.

Since then it has bolstered regime forces on the ground with hundreds of airstrikes, which have killed thousands of civilians, destroyed hospitals and homes.

Moscow has also provided artillery support, military advisers and special forces, which along with Iranian-backed militias have been crucial to the regime's roll-back of rebel gains.

Recent offensives against the Islamic State group has seen the regime recapture Palmyra and resource rich areas of Homs and Deir az-Zour provinces.