Russia launches fresh ­Syria strikes

Russia carried out new airstrikes inside Syria on Thursday, the country’s Defense Ministry said in a statement, a day after it changed the calculus of Mideast politics by entering the Syrian civil war on the side of President Bashar al-Assad.

“Russian Aerospace Forces engaged another four #ISIS facilities in #Syria this night,” the Russian Ministry of Defense announced on Twitter along with gun camera video showing large explosions.

The strikes were carried out by eight Russian SU-24 and SU-25 jets, which claimed to hit ISIS “terrorist staff” and an ammunition dump near Idlib and another headquarters in Hama.

But 24 hours into the military campaign, Russia’s aims started to come into clearer focus — that it is targeting those who oppose al-Assad, including more moderate factions that are supported by the United States and others in the west.

As much as Russia is working against terrorist groups, it appears to be intent on supporting the Assad regime.

A Syrian official stated as much on Thursday.

The airstrikes are being carried out in “complete cooperation” with the Syrian army, Syria’s ambassador to Russia, Riad Haddad, said in a news conference Thursday.

Responding to U.S. accusations that the Russians are not targeting ISIS but other groups opposed to the Syrian regime, Haddad said any armed group fighting the Syrian forces is considered terrorist. The opposition Free Syrian Army, Haddad said, is not different from ISIS in the eyes of the Syrian government.

“They are all working and supporting the goals of Daesh,” he said, referring to ISIS.


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