PUTINMoscow has deployed strategic bombers belonging to the Russian air force to spearhead its latest campaign of bombings and rocket strikes on Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reportedly made the disclosure at a strategic meeting with President Vladimir Putin, the Defense Ministry reported on its website Tuesday.

In the course of the air strikes, Russia has been using Tu-160 supersonic bombers and Tu-95 propeller strategic bombers which fired 34 rockets to the objects in the Aleppo and Idlib provinces.

These strategic bombers were designed in the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1980s and haven’t been part of any conflict until now, RIA Novosti reported.

Also on Tuesday, Russia used 12 Tu-22M3 strategic bombers in the Raqqua and Deir ez-Zor provinces. These bombers participated in the Soviet Union campaign in Afghanistan in the 1980s and, according to some reports, in the war in South Ossetia in 2008.

Vladimir Putin earlier ordered the expansion of Russia’s military operation in Syria after the Federal Security Service announced on Tuesday that the Russian Airbus A321 air crash of Oct. 31 was the result of a terrorist attack.

Russia began air strikes against militant groups in Syria on Sept. 30. Russia has about 50 aircraft including Su-24M and Su-34 bombers, low-flying ground attack Su-25CM jets and multi-role Su-30CM fighters, as well as Mi-24 attack helicopters and multi-role Mi-8 helicopters.

Russia’s latest crackdown on ISIS follows its finding that the the downed Russian airplane, Airbus A321was blown up the sky by the terrorist organization as a revenge for Moscow involvement in Syrian civil war.

“One can definitely say that this was a terrorist act,” head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) Alexander Bortnikov said at an official meeting with President Putin.

According to the FSB’s experts, a homemade bomb with a capacity of up to 1 kilogram of TNT equivalent was on board the plane, Bortnikov said.

Following the report, an angry Putin vowed that the Russia’s military aviation operations in Syria must be expanded, “so that criminals realize that retribution is inevitable.”

“We will find the terrorists anywhere on earth and punish them,” Putin said, according to a transcript of the meeting published on the Kremlin press website.

On October 31, a Kogalymavia aircraft travelling from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board.

Up to 70,000 Russians were estimated to be in Egypt when the Russian passenger plane crashed. Following a recommendation from the FSB, Russia banned all the flights to Egypt and began an evacuation operation.

Speculating on the causes of the crash started soon after the catastrophe with international media, politicians and law enforcement agency representatives declaring the plane crash a terrorist act.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov had previously declined to comment on any statements related to the crash due to “an abundance of false information” and “hoaxes.

By Olisemeka Obeche

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