(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Russian airstrikes in eastern Syria have left more than 300 Islamic State militants dead and wounded another 170 in the past two days, Russia's Defence Ministry said Tuesday.
The extremist group's losses included a field commander from the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan and about 40 militants from southern Russia, spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.
Russia's leadership has repeatedly expressed concerns about citizens of former Soviet states fighting for Islamist extremist organizations in Syria and neighbouring Iraq.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this year that as many as 10,000 people from the former Soviet Union could be fighting for Islamic State.
This week's airstrikes were conducted on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, the statement said.
Russia has been supporting Syrian state forces in the region in recent weeks in an attempt to gain control of the city of Deir al-Zour, parts of which are controlled by Islamic State.
Last month, Konashenkov said Russian special forces were involved in combat to take the city.
Islamic State released a video on Tuesday, through its mouthpiece Amaq agency, showing two men, who the group claimed are Russian soldiers who were captured in Shawla, south-west of Deir al-Zour.
In the video, the two men appeared wearing grey outfits and one of them said their names and their date of birth.
One of them appeared with bruises on his face.
"During a counter attack by the Islamic State we fell as captives in the region of Shawla," said one of the soldiers, who was speaking in fluent Russian with Arabic subtitles.
The Russian military denied reports that Russian servicemen were captured by Islamic State.
Meanwhile, at least 18 civilians were killed when US-coalition planes hit near water wells near the north-eastern city of al-Raqqa, a monitoring group said Tuesday.
According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, people were gathering near the water wells to get their daily supply of water north of al-Raqqa.
Al-Raqqa has been witnessing a shortage of water due to the heavy strikes and the ongoing military operations in the area, which has destroyed most of the infrastructure.
Islamic State haslost control of large parts of al-Raqqa, the extremist militia's de facto capital in Syria, but they are still fighting in a few pockets in the centre.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurd-led group allied with the United States, have been sweeping the city for mines laid by Islamic State militants.
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