Russia air strike kills 40 ISIS fighters, including senior commanders

A still image taken from a video footage and released by Russia's Defence Ministry on Sept 5, 2017, shows airstrikes, carried out by the Russian frigate Admiral Essen and hitting what the Defence Ministry says was an Islamic State target, in Deir al-
A still image taken from a video footage and released by Russia's Defence Ministry on Sept 5, 2017, shows airstrikes, carried out by the Russian frigate Admiral Essen and hitting what the Defence Ministry says was an Islamic State target, in Deir al-Zor province, Syria.PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian air strike has killed around 40 Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters, including four senior commanders, near the eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor, Russia's defence ministry said on Friday (Sept 8).

The strike, carried out by Su-34 fighter-bombers and Su-35 fighters, came after an intelligence report on Sept 5 showed that top ISIS commanders were meeting at a secret underground command post in the vicinity of Deir Ezzor, the ministry said on its Facebook page.

Among those killed was Abu Muhammad al-Shimali, who oversees foreign fighters at ISIS, it said.

The defence ministry also said it had evidence that Gulmurod Khalimov, ISIS' "minister of war", was present at the meeting in the bunker and had been fatally wounded in the strike and evacuated to the al-Muhasan area, 20km southeast of Deir al-Zor.

Khalimov, the US-trained commander of Tajikistan's elite police force, defected to ISIS inR April 2015 and later posted a video address, vowing to return home to establish syariah law in his Central Asian nation and to take extremisn ussia and the United States.

A top official at Tajikistan's national security service told Russia's RIA news agency that Moscow had been asked to provide details proving Khalimov's elimination.

On Tuesday, Syrian government forces, supported by Russian air strikes and cruise missile launches, reached troops besieged for years by Islamic State in Deir al-Zor, the militants' last major stronghold in Syria.