Syrian Rebels: Russia Targeting US, not ISIS
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said early reports indicate Russia’s morning airstrikes ‘appear’ to have hit targets where ISIS insurgents were not present, and instead appear to have hit enemies of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
Carter also said the US continued it’s own coalition-based strikes despite Russia’s warning that the U.S. and its allies steer clear of its warplanes.
Carter said airstrikes in Homs “had no strategic purpose.”
In an afternoon press conference, Carter said Russia‘s military involvement risks inflaming the years-old conflict.
Moscow’s “approach is tantamount… to pouring gasoline on the fire,” Carter said at the Pentagon, hours after Russia launched air strikes in Syria.
Russia launched airstrikes against targets in Syria in the Kremlin’s biggest intervention in the Middle East in decades, telling the U.S. air force to steer clear while its warplanes were in action.
Moscow’s assertion that it had attacked Islamic State was immediately challenged by Washington and by rebel sources in Syria.
A U.S. official said Moscow gave Washington just an hour’s notice of the strikes, which the Kremlin said were designed to help President Bashar al-Assad, its closest regional ally, push back Islamist militants.
Notice of the attack came from a Russian official in Baghdad who asked the U.S. air force to avoid Syrian airspace during the mission, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
Russia and the United States offered conflicting accounts of which targets had been struck, underlining growing tensions between the two former Cold War foes over Moscow’s decision to intervene.
U.S. officials said targets in the Homs area appeared to have been struck, but not areas held by Islamic State.