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Moscow steps up air campaign over Syria

Russia has stepped up its airstrikes in Syria and on 17 November for the first time deployed strategic bombers during its intervention.

The new phase of activity involved Tupolev Tu-95 and Tu-160 bombers, which took off from Russian air force bases, as well as strike aircraft that have been operational inside Syria for the past few months. Russian navy warships also took part, launching long-range cruise missiles.

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After Moscow declared that a Russian-operated Airbus A321, which was destroyed above Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula earlier this month, was brought down by a bomb, its forces were expected to increase the tempo of operations against Islamic State militants. All 224 passengers and crew on board the MetroJet flight were killed.

Russia’s air campaign over Syria is being staged with the use of a co-ordination agreement, intended to avoid the risk of any incidents with US and Israeli combat aircraft, which are also present over parts of the country.

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