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First Russian airstrikes in Syria hit US backed opposition, not IS, says US official

First Russian airstrikes in Syria hit US backed opposition, not IS, says US official

By MEE Staff at Middle East Eye

Russia began striking targets in Syria for the first time on Wednesday, hitting three Syrian provinces alongside Syrian government aircraft, a Syrian security source said.

The source said strikes have hit several areas in central Homs and Hama and also in the government stronghold of Latakia, with Syrian state television reporting that Russian planes were targeting the Islamic State group.

However, the areas which the Syrian state TV reported had been struck in Homs are mostly controlled by al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, while those hit in Latakia are held by a coalition known as the Army of Conquest, which includes al-Nusra. The areas targeted in Hama include places controlled mostly by Islamist and rebel groups, as well as those held by al-Nusra and groups that have pledged allegiance to IS.

Shortly before the airstrikes began, a Russian three-star general reportedly told US officials at the American Embassy in Baghdad to clear Syrian airspace, according to Fox News

Soon after the airstrikes, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the US opposed Russian strikes on Syrian opposition forces, not Islamic State targets.

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