The Syrian government widened its offensive to recover the southwest yesterday, extending it to an enclave held by Islamic State-affiliated fighters as Russian warplanes targeted the area, a war monitor said.
The bombardment targeted the Yarmouk Basin, which borders the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Jordan, and which is held by the Islamic State-affiliated Khalid Ibn al-Walid Army.
President Bashar al-Assad is seeking to recover the entire southwestern corner of Syria in an offensive that got underway last month and has so far recovered swathes of territory from rebels fighting under the Free Syrian Army (FSA) banner.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said yesterday's air strikes marked the first Russian strikes on the Yarmouk basin area in the war. It also said FSA rebels were simultaneously battling the IS-affiliated militants.
Government helicopters had also dropped barrel bombs on the area - containers filled with explosive material, it said.
Assad has so far recovered swathes of Deraa province in the southwest from FSA rebels, many of whom have been forced into surrender agreements mediated by Russian officers. The United States, which once armed the southern FSA rebels, told them at the start of the attack not to expect its intervention.