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Friday 22 September 2017

Four IS leaders killed in Syria air strike - Russia

Fighters prepare to move to the front line to battle Islamic State militants in north-east Syria (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)
Fighters prepare to move to the front line to battle Islamic State militants in north-east Syria (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

Russian forces have killed four Islamic State group leaders in an air strike outside the eastern Syria city of Deir el-Zour, officials said.

Russia has been providing air cover for Syrian President Bashar Assad's offensive against IS militants since 2015.

Its defence ministry said the air strike killed 40 militants, including four prominent warlords who had gathered for a meeting of IS commanders in an underground bunker outside Deir el-Zour.

Heavy clashes are taking place between Syrian government forces and IS around Deir el-Zour as militants fight to reinstate a years-long siege of the city.

On Tuesday, President Assad's troops broke the nearly three-year militant blockade of parts of the city, marking a significant advance against the extremists.

The Russian military named Abu Muhammad al-Shimali and Gulmurod Khalimov as two of the four IS leaders killed in the air strike. The other two were not named in the statement.

Al-Shimali reportedly headed the movement of foreign fighters into Syria and processed the group's new recruits.

Khalimov, a colonel who received US training while heading the riot police force in his native Tajikistan, has often been described as IS's minister of war. The United States last year placed a 3 US dollar million (£2.3 million) bounty on his head.

The Russian defence ministry said the air strike, which was carried out on an unspecified date, was ordered after Moscow received intelligence earlier this week about a meeting of senior IS commanders in the area.

AP

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