Russia vows to intensify air strikes in Syria, claiming its recent operations have significantly weakened Islamic State militants. Vanessa Johnston reports.
Russia says it will STEP UP its air strikes in Syria, escalating a military intervention that Moscow says is weakening Islamic State. A senior military officer says Russian jets have carried out more than 60 flights in Syria in three days. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN ARMY'S GENERAL STAFF OFFICIAL, ANDREI KARTAPOLOV, SAYING: "Our intelligence witnesses that the fighters are leaving the areas under their control. Panic and desertion has started in their ranks. About 600 mercenaries have left their positions and are trying to escape to Europe." But U.S. and other Western powers say Moscow's military intervention is meant to prop up its Middle East ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad... And that the strikes are also hitting rebel groups OTHER than Islamic State. According to Britain's defense minister, only 1 out of 20 Russian strikes are hitting IS targets.