Amateur videos purport to show Russian aircraft bombing areas in Homs, Syria, and the aftermath of an airstrike in Damascus. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Russian jets launched air strikes on villages and cities held by Syrian rebels north of the city of Homs on Friday (October 16), targeting a long-held and strategic enclave of opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. A Syrian offensive against the rebels began on Thursday (October 15) and builds on over a week of ground attacks launched with Russian air support in areas of western Syria that are crucial to Assad's survival and held by rebel groups other than Islamic State. Amateur video footage from Saturday (October 17) claims to show helicopters carrying out attacks in the northern countryside of Talbeiseh in Homs, and later the aftermath of an attack in the village of Deir al-Asafeir in Eastern Ghouta. Recapturing the area north of Homs would help Assad reassert control over the main population centers of western Syria and secure territory linking Damascus to the coastal heartland of his minority Alawite sect. The Syrian army, supported by foreign allies including Iran, has launched several ground offensives to retake insurgent-held territory since Russian jets started air strikes against rebel targets - mainly in western Syria - two weeks ago. Russia says its objective it to help fight Islamic State militants. But Russian jets have supported a campaign of ground attacks by Syrian troops and their allies over the last week in areas of western Syria that are crucial to the survival of President Bashar al-Assad's and held by rebel groups other than Islamic State.