The Russian Defence Ministry on Tuesday announced that its first ever attack on Syria from an aircraft carrier is to take place imminently.
Fighter jets from the Admiral Kuznetsov and heavily armed escort ships are to bomb anti-Syrian government positions in the beleaguered city of Aleppo in the coming hours.
“The attacks are to hit the long-range approaches to the city,” a Defence Ministry spokesman said.
Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, stresses, however, that there would be no airstrikes directly on the embattled eastern parts of the city.
A monitoring group said that an airstrike on rebel-held areas in Syria’s north-western province of Idlib killed at least 20 people on Tuesday, among them children.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said airstrikes hit Khan Sheikhoun and Barabo in south and south-western Idlib.
“Among the people who are killed are 11 in Barabo and nine, among them seven children and two pregnant women, were killed in Khan Sheikhoun,’’ the monitoring group said.
Rami Abdel-Rahman, head of the observatory, said the strike hit a street where children were playing. “Three of the dead children were from one family,” he added.
Abdel Rahman was unable to determine whether the planes were Syrian regime jets or Russian.
Russia began its air campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in September 2015.
The observatory said elsewhere, regime troops managed to score “strategic advances” against positions manned by rebels in South-West Aleppo city.
It said that government forces and their allies had seized full control of the so-called 1070 Apartment Project and Minian.
“The government troops are trying to regain posts they lost to rebels when the opposition rebels launched their wide-scale attack on regime-held areas on October 28,” Abdel Rahman said.
An alliance of opposition fighters, including Islamist militants, started a major offensive on October 28 to break the government siege that has been in place on eastern Aleppo since July.
An estimated 300,000 people are trapped in the eastern part of Aleppo, where residents report declining or damaged supplies of basic goods, including food, water, electricity and medicine.
Russia and its allies in the Syrian army had on Friday, imposed a 10-hour humanitarian ceasefire to allow civilians and rebel fighters to leave eastern Aleppo.
However, none of them agreed to leave through the corridors manned by Syrian troops and their allies.