Russian air strikes have successfully hit at least twelve targets across Syria including a Jihadi Command Centre and a Communications Hub, although Western powers cast doubt over the Russian selection of key targets.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lazrov yesterday confirmed hits on ISIS “and others” in the Russian offensive against all groups opposing Syrian President Bahar al-Asad. The strikes, which began on Wednesday, have been carried out by Su-25M and Su-25 bomber jets from the Russian military, which have now carried out around 20 sorties.
It has been confirmed that the strikes were effective in hitting its targets, with photographs from Syria showing the buildings on the ground demolished.
The strikes come as Iran and Hezbollah announced that they are sending in ground troops to battle ISIS and other groups opposing the Syrian president, such as the Free Syrian forces.
With President Putin indicating that there will be a further 3-4 months of its offensive in Syria, tensions between Russia and the UK and US are beginning to mount over the selection of targets for Russian strikes. So far strikes have attacked ISIS stronghold Raqqa, but also targets in Aleppo, Hama and Idlib, where ISIS is not prominent.
UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said that they have been monitoring the strikes by Russia in Syria, and suggested that only one in twenty strikes was targeting ISIS. “Our evidence indicates they are dropping unguided munitions in civilian areas, killing civilians” he said.
However, Fallon denied that this would deter the UK government from strikes against ISIS in Syria, as he said it would be “morally wrong” to leave air strikes up to French, Australian and American military, given that they were keeping “British streets safe”.
Obama also spoke out, saying that Russian air strikes “strengthen IS”, denying the assertion that all of the armed opposition to Asad were terrorists, although he acknowledged the fact that Russia’s efforts were driving the “moderate opposition” underground.