The Russian Air Force commenced aerial bombardment of assumed ISIS targets in Syria on Wednesday. In explaining its actions, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, General Igor Konashenkov, stated:
“Today, Russian aerospace force jets delivered pinpoint strikes on eight ISIS terror group targets in Syria. In total, 20 flights were made. As a result, arms and fuel depots and military equipment were hit. ISIS coordination centers in the mountains were totally destroyed.”
Fox News is reporting the airstrikes began one hour after a representative of the Russian military, identified only as a general, visited the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and requested the removal of American forces in the vicinity of intended targets.
In Moscow, the Russian Federation Council, the upper house of the Federal Assembly, unanimously authorized the use of Russian ground troops in Syria.
Citing national interest, Sergey Ivanov, Chief of the Presidential Administration of Russia, explained the scope of Russian airstrikes and, seeking to assuage concerns about the Federal Assembly’s approval of the use of troops, insisted on no immediate plans to deploy ground forces.
“This is not about reaching for some foreign policy goals, satisfying ambitions, which our Western partners regularly accuse us of. It’s only about the national interest of the Russian Federation.”
While addressing a United Nations (UN) Security Council meeting on Wednesday morning, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated: “His country is ready to forge standing channels of communication to ensure a maximally effective fight against terrorist groups, and warned about ISIS’ potential.
“In the vast areas of Iraq and Syria, Islamic State has actually created an extremist quasi-state, which commands an efficient repressive apparatus, stable sources of income, well-equipped army and elements of weapons of mass destruction,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov later announced Russia plans to circulate a draft council resolution to “promote joint efforts against groups like the Islamic State.”
The Pentagon disputes Russian claims that airstrikes targeted ISIS positions.
Accusing Russia of “pouring gasoline on the fire,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Russian airstrikes are “unlikely to have hit Islamic State targets.”
Buttressing Carter’s statements, Khaled Khoja, President of the American-backed National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, told Agence France-Presse (AFP):
“The Russians struck northern Homs today and killed 36 innocent people… who fought against extremism. All of the casualties were civilians. No one from military forces so it was very obvious that the Russian intervention was to support the regime, to support more killings inside Syria, and (it) will create a more chaotic atmosphere.”
While the superpowers are involved in a catfight, the Syrian population continues to suffer immeasurably.
The principal rational for Russian airstrikes is the invitation extended to the Kremlin from Damascus, and long-time ally, Bashar al-Assad.
In Mr. Putin’s worldview, further hesitation against ISIS would be tantamount to rolling out the welcome mat for ISIS expansion.
[RT News] [The Telegraph] [Fox News] [Photo courtesy Valuewalk.com]