Russian long-range bombers strike Islamic State targets in Syria

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Six Russian long-range bombers struck Islamic State targets near the town of Albu Kamal in Syria’s Deir al-Zor Province on Wednesday, the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement.

The TU-22M3 bombers took off from bases in Russia and overflew Iran and Iraq before launching the strike, it said.

The ministry said the planes had bombed Islamic State supply depots, militants, and armored vehicles and that satellite and drone surveillance had confirmed that all of the designated targets had been destroyed.

It said Sukhoi-30SM fighter jets, based at the Hmeymim air base in Syria used by Russian forces, had escorted the bombers while they were in Syrian air space and that all the bombers had safely returned to their bases.

Russia on Tuesday accused the United States of providing de-facto cover for Islamic State units in Syria and of only pretending to fight terrorism in the Middle East.

Specifically, the Russian Defence Ministry said the U.S. air force had tried to hinder Russian strikes on Islamic State militants around Albu Kamal.

Asked about the Russian allegations, Colonel Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State, said:

“The Russian ministry of defense statements are about as accurate as their air campaign and I think that is a reason for them to start, you know, coming out with their latest barrage of lies.”

Writing by Denis Pinchuk; Editing by Andrew Osborn