ISIS Advancing on Aleppo Despite Russian Strikes

ISIS fighters advance to the outskirts of Syria's second city, despite Moscow's announcement it killed hundreds of jihadists.

Arutz Sheva North America ,

Aleppo's historic citadel
Aleppo's historic citadel

Islamic State (ISIS) group fighters advanced Friday to the outskirts of Syria's second city Aleppo, despite Moscow's announcement that its raids had killed hundreds of jihadists in just 24 hours, AFP reported.

With Moscow in its 10th day of strikes, the United States announced it would halt its troubled program to build up Syrian rebel units to fight ISIS.

Lieutenant General Igor Makushev, deputy head of the Russian General Staff, told reporters that "Su-34M and SU-24SM warplanes hit 60 terrorist targets".

He said Russia had bombed a command post in ISIS stronghold Raqa, killing two senior commanders and around 200 fighters, according to intercepted radio communications.

Strikes on Aleppo killed "some 100 militants", and other raids struck command posts and training camps in Latakia, Hama and Idlib.

Russia conducted its first airstrikes in Syria last week, and on Wednesday Moscow ramped up its war by unleashing cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea.

Western governments say the vast majority of Russian strikes have targeted rebel groups other than ISIS in an attempt to defend President Bashar Al-Assad's rule, despite claims from Russia it is targeting only ISIS.

After the first Russian strikes against the Homs and Hama districts of the country, an unnamed American official said the targets were "moderate" rebel groups fighting ISIS.

Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said Friday Washington would stop recruiting new fighters for its train-and-equip program and would instead "provide equipment packages and weapons to a select group of vetted leaders and their units" already on the ground.

But despite raids by both Russia and a U.S,-led coalition, ISIS militants have reached their closest position yet to Aleppo city in northern Syria, a monitor reported.

"Dozens of combatants were killed on both sides" as IS drove out rebels from nearby localities as well as a military base, said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The jihadists are now just over 10 kilometers (six miles) from the northern edges of Aleppo city and three kilometers (two miles) from pro-regime forces in the Sheikh Najjar industrial zone.

"ISIS has never been so close to the city of Aleppo, and this is its biggest advance towards" Syria's pre-war commercial capital, Abdel Rahman said, according to AFP.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)