Russian warships in the eastern Mediterranean have fired cruise missiles at Islamic State in the Iraq and the Levant targets near Palmyra, as Syrian government forces struggle to push the terror group away from the ancient city.
The frigate Admiral Essen and submarine Krasnodar fired four Kalibr missiles against targets including heavy equipment and fighters from group based to the east of Palmyra, the Russian ministry of defence said in a statement on Wednesday.
“All the targets were hit,” the statement said. It did not say when the strike took place.
Moscow said that the US, Turkish and Israeli military “were informed in a timely manner of the missile launches through existing communication channels.”
President Vladimir Putin was briefed on the successful strikes by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.
The strikes are the first of their kind in months, and reflect a years-long see-saw battle for control of the city.
Isil seized control of the city in May 2015 and embarked on a bloody campaign of executions, including the beheading of the city’s 81-year-old antiquities chief.
Syrian and Russian forces evicted Isil from Palmyra in March 2016, and flew an orchestra in from St Petersburg to mark the liberation of city’s UNESCO-listed world heritage site.
But the jihadist group recaptured the city after a lighting offensive in December, resuming executions in the ancient amphitheatre and destroying some of its most famous monuments.
Russian-backed Syrian government forces retook Palmyra for a second time in March this year, but have struggled to push the group away from the eastern edge of the city.
Russia entered the war in Syria on the side of Bashar al-Assad’s government in 2015.
Isil is not included in a fragile ceasefire agreement between regime and opposition forces brokered by Russia, Iran, and Turkey.