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Russian jets target 4 Daesh-held oil plants in Syria’s Raqqah

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A file photo of a Russian Su-34 fighter bomber

Russian fighter jets have targeted four oil facilities held by the Daesh terror group near the Syrian city of Raqqah amid reports of fresh army offensives aimed at liberating the northern city.

In a Friday statement, the Russian Defense Ministry said Moscow’s “air force jets destroyed four targets of illegal oil extraction, located to the northwest of Raqqah and controlled by Daesh militants.”

According to the report, Russian Su-34 strike fighters have conducted a series of aerial raids against oil operations of the foreign-backed terrorist group in Syria within the past week, taking out one Daesh-held oil facility in Hasakah Province.

The statement further added that similar air strikes on Tuesday, also targeted oil installations near Raqqah, which serves as the main Daesh stronghold in Syria near the Turkish border.

It has been widely reported that the terrorist group partially finances its terror operations in Syria and neighboring Iraq by illegal production and shipment of oil mainly to Turkey, known as a staunch supporter of anti-Damascus militants.

Moscow has repeatedly said it has evidence showing Turkey was involved in the smuggling of oil from areas held by Daesh in Iraq and Syria. Ankara has strongly rejected the allegation.

A frame grab taken from a video made available by the Russian Defense Ministry on December 2, 2015, shows the Turkish-Syrian border crossing with columns of tanker trucks purportedly loading oil at Daesh-controlled installations before entering Turkey. ©Reuters

The development comes amid reports that the Syrian armed forces have launched a new major offensive to regain control of Raqqah.

According to a Friday report by the Beirut-based al-Akhbar newspaper, the Syrian operation, backed by Russian airstrikes, is not expected to reach Raqqah “in the coming weeks.” It is rather intended to reach the town of Tabqa, nearly 50 kilometers west of the city and home to Daesh’s major arms depot.

Suffering heavy losses on the battlegrounds in Syria and Iraq, Daesh has recently stepped up its terror activities, killing mostly unarmed civilians for their ethnic and religious identities or due to their refusal to follow their orders.

This is while the US and its regional allies are widely accused of supporting multitudes of the militant groups across Syria and Iraq.

UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the foreign-sponsored crisis that has gripped Syria since March 2011.

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