Russia cuts off ISIS 'lifeblood' as warplanes destroy group's key oil facilities in Syria

A still image taken from video footage, released by Russia's Defence Ministry on Nov. 20, 2015, shows Russian Tupolev TU-22 long-range strategic bombers conducting an airstrike at an unknown location over Syria.Reuters

At least 15 oil refining and storage facilities and more than 500 fuel tanker vehicles transporting illegal oil from Syria to Iraq have been destroyed during this week's bombings by Russian warplanes, cutting off the Islamic State's main sources of funding, the Russia's defence minister said Friday.

Minister Sergei Shoigu said the destruction of the key facilities now deprives the extremist group of $1.5 million in daily income from sales, according to CBS News.

He said President Vladimir Putin has been informed Friday of the airstrike development in Syria and has commended the military's performance and ordered a sustained campaign as terror threats against Russia remains high.

Moscow has been bombing ISIS and other terror groups in Syria since Sept. 30 at the official request of President Bashar al-Assad, Putin's close ally in the Middle East. Following the confirmation that the Russian Metrojet flight in Egypt was downed by a bomb planted by ISIS, the country has increased the intensity of its bombing. At least 224 people, mostly Russian tourists, were killed when the plane exploded in mid-air before crashing on Egypt's Sinai peninsula.

On Tuesday, Russia's fleet of 25 long-range bombers joined Su-34, Su-25, and Su-24M warplanes in conducting operations over Syria—doubling the number of airstrikes against the militants, according to RT.

The Russian defence chief said the number of aircraft involved in pounding the jihadis was increased to 69, the Express of London reported.

According to Shoigu, Russian warplanes have flown 522 sorties and destroyed over 800 targets over the last four days. Russian long-range bombers and navy ships have also launched 101 cruise missiles in four days, including 18 fired Friday by Russian navy ships from the Caspian Sea, CBS News said.

A pair of Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers also flew Friday from a base on the Kola Peninsula over the Norwegian Sea, the North Atlantic and the Strait of Gibraltar and into the Mediterranean to launch long-range cruise missiles on targets in Syria.

Shoigu said recent strikes inflicted significant casualties on ISIS, including more than 600 militants killed with just one missile strike in the province of Deir el-Zour. The claim could not be independently confirmed.

Putin met with President Barack Obama at the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Turkey recently to discuss further cooperation on fighting the ISIS. Both Russia and the United States agree on wiping out the terror group, but not on keeping Assad.

French President Francois Hollande, meanwhile, is set to travel to Washington and Moscow next week for talks on joint military action against ISIS. Putin earlier ordered the Russian military to cooperate with the French, news reports say.

France was the target of recent terror attacks by the militants, wherein 130 people were killed during the terror attacks in Paris.

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