RUSSIA RATCHETS UP AIR STRIKES AGAINST IS TARGETS IN SYRIA

MOSCOW — Russian air forces on Tuesday intensified military operation against Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria, shortly after the Kremlin admitted that a Russia passenger plane that crashed in Egypt last month was brought down by a homemade bomb.

Russian Federal Security Service said on Tuesday that the downing of the plane in Sinai, Egypt, was the result of the terrorist attack, while Putin vowed vengeance and massive anti-terror campaign in Syria.

“The number of flights has doubled in the air operation in Syria to carry out powerful strikes against IS targets across Syria with pinpoint accuracy,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Putin in a meeting on the military operation in Syria Tuesday.

A total of 127 sorties were planned on Tuesday against 206 terrorist targets in Syria, with 82 sorties being flown, hitting 140 targets so far, an online Kremlin release quoted Shoigu as saying.

Tuesday’s operation involves 12 Tu-22M3 long-range strategic bombers targeting terrorist facilities in Syrian provinces of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor, as well as 34 cruise missiles against targets in the Aleppo and Idlib provinces, the release said.

Meanwhile, Russia also prepared a new round of military operations against IS in Syria, said Chief of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov at the meeting on Tuesday.

Gerasimov said that over the past 48 days, Russian air forces have dispatched 2,289 sorties to carry out 4,111 strikes against major infrastructure facilities, destroying 562 control centers, 64 training camps and 54 ammunition plants.

Russia launched air strikes against IS and other terrorist groups on Sept. 30 following a request by Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

On Oct. 30, a Russia plane crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people aboard. The terrorist group IS earlier claimed responsibility for downing the plane. But the group’s claim has yet to be verified.

It also claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks in France on Friday, which claimed at least 129 lives.

On Tuesday, Putin instructed relevant agencies to establish contacts with the French side, after a phone conversation with French President Francois Hollande earlier in the day.

The Kremlin added that the two leaders will meet and talk on Nov. 26, when Hollande is expected to visit Moscow.

The two decided to ensure closer contacts and improve coordination of military actions between military agencies and security services of the two countries as part of anti-terror operations carried out by Russia and France in Syria.

Meanwhile, Putin ordered the command of Moskva guard missile cruiser, currently staying in the Mediterranean Sea off Syria’s coast, to establish a direct contact with a French naval group heading for the same area.

“It would be necessary to develop an action plan with them for operations at sea and in midair,” Putin said. PNA/Xinhua