Russian Federation is striking the same Islamic State and Al-Nusra front targets in Syria as the United States, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday, after reports its jets hit moderate rebels.
Russian Federation followed its launch of airstrikes in Syria with a call Wednesday for the world to unite in the fight against terrorist groups, and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told foreign ministers of world powers that his country was circulating a draft United Nations Security Council resolution to help make it happen.
Reflecting growing tension between the big powers, Kerry phoned his Russian counterpart Lavrov early on Wednesday to tell him the United States regarded the strikes as risky, a USA official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“If it acts like a terrorist, if it walks like a terrorist, if it fights like a terrorist, it’s a terrorist, right?” he asked rhetorically. He said more than 2,000 fighters have left Russian Federation and ex-Soviet states to join the jihad in Syria and that, “we are better off helping Assad fight them on Syrian territory”.
Russia is not planning to expand air raids to Iraq, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday, a day after Moscow carried out its first airstrike in Syria. And yet when reporters pointed out the inescapable conclusion-the Russians had lied-Carter refused to accept it. “I take the Russians at their word”, he said.
US officials questioned whether ISIS is active in the areas hit by the Russian strikes, which on Wednesday were around the city of Homs, in western Syria near the border with Lebanon.
“I’m especially concerned because there has been no real effort by the Russian side to deconflict the Russian air strikes in Syria with the ongoing U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIL”, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said during a visit to the United States. The language, a reference to Syria’s government, is similar to that included in an earlier draft council statement that Russian Federation pursued in recent weeks but the US refused to negotiate.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Simply to say that if we can – the general thrust is that we need to, if the Russians are going to be more engaged in this theater, we have to de-conflict militarily. The Russian official also asked that US aircraft avoid Syrian airspace during those missions Wednesday.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Thank you, [Moderator]. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif of Iran, Syria’s closest ally, noted that the U.S.-led coalition was “failing to achieve its goals”.
“Local Syrian sources claim the airstrikes exclusively targeted rebel positions, including the headquarters of Free Syrian Army-affiliated, Western-backed TOW anti-tank missile recipient al-Izza”, the think tank reported on its website.
“We believe that the Free Syrian Army should be part of the political process, like a few other armed groups on the ground composed of the Syrians’ patriotic opposition individuals”, Lavrov said. Lavrov said it would be discussed over the next month.
He also said Russian Federation has no plans to extend its airstrikes to Iraq.
He stressed the difference between the coalition’s actions and Moscow’s actions in Syria: the US coalition has been carrying out airstrikes for over a year without legal authorization from the United Nations Security Council or approval from President Bashar Assad’s government while Russian Federation was launching airstrikes in response to a Syrian request.
The USA and Russian military will hold a secure video teleconference call Thursday.