The Syrian military and Russian jets are pounding rebel positions, including those of Islamic State, in Syria's west. Nathan Frandino reports.
The offensive is on in Syria. State TV shows soldiers on the ground in Hama province with Russian jets above. The joint efforts are aimed at recapturing territory in the country's west... where President Bashar al-Assad's vital stronghold on the coast had been under threat. Russian Lieutenant General Igor Makushev says air strikes have hit 27 Islamic State targets in Homs, Hama and Raqqa overnight. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) DEPUTY HEAD OF GENERAL STAFF, LIEUTENANT GENERAL, IGOR MAKUSHEV, SAYING: "You can see on the screen the moment of the air strike in Raqqa province which, as you know, is controlled exclusively by Islamic State. A direct hit by K500S high precision bombs destroyed the headquarters of the Liwa Al-Haqq militant group. According to intercepted data, the air strike eliminated two high-ranking Islamic State field commanders and about 200 insurgents." Russia began air strikes last week that it says are aimed both at supporting its ally, Assad, and combating Islamic State. Though the U.S. believes Moscow is taking aim at other rebel groups as well. Makushev says one strike in Aleppo was especially successful. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) DEPUTY HEAD OF GENERAL STAFF, LIEUTENANT GENERAL, IGOR MAKUSHEV, SAYING: "Near Aleppo a strike hit a militant base and weapons warehouse in the building of a former prison. You can see the moment of this strike on the screen. As a result, about 100 insurgents were eliminated as well as a weapons warehouse." The conflict has now killed 250,000 people, sent millions into exile and shown no signs of ending.