The Russian leader is reportedly mounting an enormous military mission to take control of the terror group’s stronghold of Raqqa.The city is the self-declared capital of ISIS in Syria and is patrolled by as many as 5,000 jihadi members. Putin is set to mobilise 150,000 reservists who he conscripted into the military earlier this week.
An insider revealed: “It is very clear that Russia wants to sweep up the west of the country, taking Raqqa and all the oil and gas resources around Palmyra.
“This is fast becoming a race to Raqqa – to secure the oil fields they need to cleanse the region of insurgents, and the IS capital is vital to do that.”
It comes a day after Russian jets obliterated nine ISIS outposts in just 24 hours using bunker-busting bombs.
Russian jets pounded terrorist targets and blew up a command centre, potentially killing dozens of fighters.Confirming the successful raids, Andrei Kartapolov from the Russian army vowed to ramp up the pressure, saying: “We will not only continue strikes… We will also increase their intensity.”And Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said: “Over the past 24 hours, Sukhoi Su-34 and Su-24M fighter jets have performed 20 sorties and hit nine Islamic State installations.
“A bunker-busting BETAB-500 air bomb dropped from a Sukhoi Su-34 bomber near Raqqa has eliminated the command post of one of the terror groups, together with an underground storage facility for explosives and munitions.”These and other highly exact means of attack in recent days have been used to target objects of Islamic State terrorists.”Command posts, stores of weapons and oil products, workshops where weapons of suicide bombers are made.”
Meanwhile a terrorism expert revealed to Express.co.uk that ISIS have vastly exaggerated their military strength and called on Western leaders to launch a co-ordinated fightback which would obliterate the hate group.
Dr Afzal Ashraf said ISIS has become its own worst enemy with its campaign of terror against the West, which has prompted an international backlash.
He said: “This mythical state will disappear in a matter of hours once the international community decides to act.
“It won’t take very long at all to drive them, if not out of all of Iraq or Syria, then certainly the majority of their territories.
“They will hide in towns, but I would say do not to follow them as they would use innocent civilians as human shields.”
David Cameron initially gave the Russian air strikes a cautious welcome and said the UK would need to look “very carefully” at Putin’s operations.But yesterday he warned the intervention is making the situation worse and helping to support the “butcher” president Bashar Assad.
Separately Mr Cameron pledged to “beef up” the SAS and double the number of British drones to combat ISIS militants in an interview ahead of today’s Conservative conference.The Prime Minister said investment in special forces and surveillance was essential to meeting the terrorist threat facing the UK.He revealed that the UK will buy a fleet of 20 new Protector drones capable of targeting IS extremists in Iraq and Syria.