Russia said to kill U.S.-backed anti-Assad leaders

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Air strikes carried out by Russia in Syria have killed two U.S.-backed rebel commanders, according to rebel sources.

A Sukhoi Su-24M military aircraft landing on the tarmac at the Hmeymim air base near Latakia, Syria Photo: REUTERS/Ministry of Defence of the Russian
A Russian Sukhoi Su-24M lands at the Hmeymim air base near Latakia.  /Reuters/Russian Ministry of Defense

The sources said Basil Zamo, commander of the U.S.-backed First Coastal Division in Latakia province, was killed in a Russian air strike on Oct. 19.

Also on Oct. 19, the commander of the Nour al Din al-Zinki Brigades rebel group was reportedly killed in fighting south of Aleppo.

The rebel groups, under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army, are fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The First Coastal Division has received U.S. military support, including anti-tank missiles. The air strike on Oct. 19 was the third time Russian war planes have targeted the rebel group since Sept. 30, First Coastal Division spokesman Fadi Ahmad said.

Ahmad said Russian warplanes struck one of the rebel group’s headquarters and then came back to strike the same target after rescue workers had arrived at the scene.

“They have hit us three times now. They are hitting us on the grounds of Daesh (ISIL), but they are hitting the ones who do them most damage – the Free Syrian Army,” said Ahmad.

Russia’s air strikes on the anti-Assad rebel groups, some of whom were trained by the CIA, are supporting a new ground offensive launched by Syrian, Iranian and Hizbullah forces.

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