The Latest: Hollande: Only 1 of Russia's raids hit IS

AP News
Posted: Oct 02, 2015 3:03 PM
The Latest: Hollande: Only 1 of Russia's raids hit IS

MOSCOW (AP) — The latest developments as Russia and other nations counter Islamic State militants in Syria. All times local:

10:00 p.m.

French President Francois Hollande says only one Russian strike on Raqqa hit at the Islamic State group. The others, he said, were in areas held by other opposition groups.

Hollande met with Putin in Paris earlier Friday, before Russia had announced its latest sorties. It wasn't immediately clear which day's strikes he referred to.

Russian news agencies cited Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenov as saying Russian warplanes carried out 14 missions in Syria Friday.

He said one attack destroyed a large facility for IS bomb-making in Maaret al-Numan.

He also said an IS command post, bunker and storage depot were hit in Hama province.


9:00 p.m.

The office of the U.N. Special Envoy to Syria says the U.N. has suspended its planned humanitarian intervention in the country due to the recent surge of military activities in concerned areas.

Staffan de Mistura's office said the U.N. team had made all necessary preparations to immediately implement the humanitarian provisions as part of the implementation of a ceasefire agreement.

The deal was to allow Sunni insurgents and their families' safe passage out of the border area of the southwestern city Zabadani in return for safe passage for Shiite civilians in the northern villages of Foua and Kfarya, which have been besieged by insurgents.

Foua and Kfarya are in Idlib province where Russian warplanes have carried out several airstrikes over the past two days.


7:05 p.m.

Syria's foreign minister says airstrikes alone are not enough to defeat the Islamic State group if there is no cooperation with his country's army.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem spoke to a U.N. gathering of world leaders Friday, calling Russia's airstrikes in Syria "effective" because they support his country's efforts to combat terrorism.

He also declared that his country's army "is capable of cleansing the country of those terrorists" and warned about the threat of a growing "caliphate state, which as you know, will not be limited to Syria or Iraq."


6:50 p.m.

Syria's foreign minister says his country will participate in U.N.-led working groups toward a third round of Geneva talks on the fate of the country.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem addressed a U.N. gathering of world leaders Friday as the international community scrambled to respond to Russia's new airstrikes in his country.

Al-Moallem stressed that the working groups proposed by the U.N.'s special envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura, are non-binding. The foreign minister described them as "brainstorming" sessions meant to prepare for the launch of new talks sometime in the future.

But he added "How can we ask the Syrian people to head to the ballot box while they are not safe in the streets?"


5:30 p.m.

Activists are reporting intense fighting between Syrian troops and members of the Islamic State group in the contested eastern city of Deir el-Zour.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says IS gunmen launched an offensive Friday on government-held neighborhoods in Deir el-Zour.

It said Syrian warplanes are taking part in the battles and that the extremists are believed to have blown up two car bombs in the city.

The Local Coordination Committees reported "very intense" clashes on different fronts in the city that is partly controlled by the government and partly by IS fighters.

IS fighters have launched several attacks in attempts to capture government-held parts of the city and nearby airport over the past weeks without success.


4:10 p.m.

A jihadi cleric based in Syria has warned Russia that the Arab country will be a "graveyard for invaders."

Abdullah al-Muhaysini, a Saudi militant linked to al-Qaida's Syria affiliate the Nusra Front, warned the Russians that Syria will be another Afghanistan.

In a video released Friday, al-Muhaysini said that the Russian intervention will boost the morale of fighters in Syria.

The cleric asked the Russians: "Oh Russian people, did you forget the Afghan quagmire? Do you want to enter a new quagmire. The people of the Levant will stand up to you."

So far, Russian warplanes have not attacked the Nusra Front that is active in northern Syria.


3:15 p.m.

A French diplomat says Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Francois Hollande have discussed airstrikes by both of their countries in Syria and efforts for a political transition in Syria.

The two leaders, meeting in Paris on Friday after a tense week, made "efforts to bridge the differences" over the Syrian leadership issue, the official said. Their talks focused on the airstrikes by Russia and the U.S.-led coalition, protecting civilians and a political transition.

The two countries are not officially "coordinating" their airstrikes but inform each other to avoid problems, the official said.

The official was not authorized to be publicly named and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The meeting was previously scheduled to discuss Ukraine's conflict but frenzied activity around Syria this week dominated the bilateral meeting.


1:50 p.m.

Activists say the Islamic State group did not hold Friday prayers in several mosques in its de facto capital of Raqqa in northern Syria, fearing Russian airstrikes.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a drone carried out strikes on an IS-run camp near Raqqa on Friday. It had no word on casualties.

A Raqqa-based collective called Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered said several mosques were evacuated for fears of airstrikes.

The Observatory said air raids near Raqqa Thursday killed 12 extremists including a Tunisian and an Iraq. The Observatory said it was not clear if the nine air raids were carried out by Russian warplanes or those of the U.S.-led coalition.


1:40 p.m.

Syrian activists say warplanes believed to be Russians have attacked a central town that was recently captured by the Islamic State group.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that air raids on Qaryatain occurred before midnight Thursday.

Qaryatain, a key town in central Syria, was captured by the extremist group in August, following clashes with President Bashar Assad's forces.

Syria-based activist Bebars al-Talawy said on Friday that the air raids were carried out by Russian warplanes, adding that there were no casualties.


1:30 p.m.

The Russian Defense Ministry says its aircraft have carried out 18 sorties in Syria in the past 24 hours, including 10 overnight in which seven sites were bombed.

The ministry said all of the targets belonged to the Islamic State group, although Russian officials have acknowledged that other unidentified groups have previously been targeted as well.

Since the airstrikes began Wednesday, Russian jets have primarily bombed central and northwestern Syria, regions that are the gateway to government strongholds in Damascus and the coast.

Friday's statement said the latest wave of airstrikes destroyed a command post near Daret Azzeh in the Aleppo region and hit a field camp near Maaret al-Numan in the Idlib region, wiping out bunkers and weapons stores.

Also in Idlib, the strikes destroyed a temporary warehouse and major arms depot, the statement said. Idlib region is controlled by a coalition of rebel groups that includes the al-Qaida-linked Jabbat al-Nusra.

In the Hama region, jets destroyed a command post and dozens of heavy weapons near the town of Kfar Zeita.