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Russia ramps up strikes as Syria army launches offensive

A Russian warship in the Caspian Sea launches a cruise missile during a strike against Islamic State positions in Syria, on October 7, 2015Russia dramatically escalated its air war in Syria, unleashing heavy bombardments and cruise missile strikes from the Caspian Sea as cover for a major Syrian army ground offensive. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow had begun synchronising its strikes with the army’s ground movements against rebels, as the Kremlin voiced willingness to make contact with Western-backed fighters that Washington and its allies accuse it of targeting. Putin, who turned 63 on Wednesday, said Russian warships had fired cruise missiles on Islamic State group positions in Syria for the first time.

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