Russia launches air strikes against IS targets in Syria, US and NATO not happy


Russian air forces carried out 20 sorties during the first round of air strikes against the Islamic State(IS) in Syria, hitting eight targets, including a command center, Russian Defense Ministry has said.

Eight facilities held by the extremist group had been struck, with a command post and militant control centers in the mountainous areas of Syria being completely destroyed, Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted the ministry as saying on Wednesday.

The minister also released a 46-second video footage, which appeared to show dozens of ground targets in different locations being struck.

The strikes, stationed at a Syria’s airbase, were conducted after aerial reconnaissance and data clarification with the Syrian government forces, said Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.


No armament was used to target civilian facilities or within their vicinity, he added.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated on Wednesday that Russia’s airstrikes in Syria would be temporary, “only for the period of offensive operations carried out by the Syrian army.”

Meanwhile, the US has expressed fears that the targets were non-IS opponents of Russia’s ally, Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

The US is targeting IS with air strikes in both Syria and Iraq.

Nato said there had been little co-ordination by Russia with US-led forces against IS, also known as Isil.

Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, agreed that the forces from the two countries needed to “establish channels of communication to avoid any unintended incidents”. His US counterpart, John Kerry, said talks will be held “as soon as possible,” possibly as early as Thursday.

A BBC report says that there are serious questions about who exactly the Russian aircraft are targeting. US officials believe that the initial Russian strikes are not in IS-held territory, raising the possibility that Russian air power is being utilised more in the form of close air support for Syrian government forces against the multiple enemies of the Assad regime.

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he was concerned by reports that the Russian air strikes were not targeted against IS.

“I’m especially concerned because there has been no real effort by the Russian side to deconflict the Russian air strikes in Syria with the ongoing US-led coalition fighting Isil [IS].”

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter went further, saying: “By supporting Assad and seemingly taking on everyone who is fighting Assad, you’re taking on the whole rest of the country of Syria.

“At least some parts of the anti-Assad opposition belong in the political transition going forward. That’s why the Russian approach is doomed to fail.”

More than 250,000 Syrians have been killed and a million injured in four-and-a-half years of armed conflict, which began with anti-government protests before escalating into a full-scale civil war.

More than 11 million others have been forced from their homes, four million of them abroad, as forces loyal to President Assad and those opposed to his rule battle each other – as well as jihadist militants from IS and other groups. Growing numbers of refugees are going to Europe.