Russia says its jets are flying in support of the Syrian military's offensive to recapture the ancient city of Palmyra from Islamic State (IS) militants.
Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian Military General Staff said on March 18 that Russia’s aircraft based in Syria were conducting up to 25 bombing raids daily to back up the “large-scale operation.”
Activists who monitor the Syrian conflict said troops were slowly advancing toward Palmyra amid intense air strikes in the city and its suburbs.
Rudskoi told reporters in Moscow that the Syrian army is close to taking control of Palmyra.
He said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces had seized key hilltop points near Palmyra and cut supply routes leading to the IS-held city.
Earlier in the week, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian forces to partially withdraw from Syria.