Beirut – At least 38 Islamic State fighters were killed over the last 24 hours as Syrian jets continued to pound the extremist group’s strongholds in the ancient city of Palmyra, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday.
A Syrian military source, who declined to be named, said that newly supplied Russian aircraft flown by Syrian pilots had been used in the attacks.
Russia has reportedly stepped up its military assistance to the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, which is under growing pressure from Islamic State and from mainly Islamist Turkish- and Gulf-backed rebels.
The US Defence Department said last week that it was monitoring a Russian military buildup at an airport near the port city of Latakia in Assad’s coastal heartland.
US Defence Secretary Ash Carter on Friday discussed the situation in Syria in a telephone call with his Russian counterpart.
Russia has acknowledged that it is sending military equipment to Syria, saying that it is intended to fight terrorism.