BEIRUT — The Latest on the Syrian conflict (all times local):
Russia says six of its long-range bombers have taken off from air bases in Russia to strike targets on the border between Syria and Iraq.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that six Tu-22MZ bombers struck Islamic State positions outside the militant-held town of Boukamal on the border with Iraq. Syrian government forces are battling the militants outside the town.
Russia has been providing air cover for the Syrian government’s operations against IS and rebels since 2015 but it has mostly used an airfield in Syria.
The Russian military said the airstrikes destroyed the militants’ command posts and ammunition depots.
Syrian opposition members say Russia’s plans to host Syrian groups and government representatives for political talks are an attempt to undercut U.N. efforts to resolve Syria’s conflict.
It’s not clear if the rejection from the internationally-backed Syrian opposition means they will boycott the meeting expected on Nov. 18 — 10 days before the U.N.-sponsored talks scheduled in Geneva.
Russia invited a dozen Syrian groups and the government to Sochi for talks.
A senior member of the opposition Higher Negotiations Committee Alise Mofrej says Russia is “trying hard to cancel” the U.N. process.
She wrote on Twitter on Wednesday the Russia proposal is creating a “tactical parallel” that threatens to undermine a political solution.
Another opposition member, Ahmed Ramadan, said the Russian invite “bypasses” the United Nations and existing UN resolutions.