A Syrian rebel commander, backed by the US, told CBS News the Russians will be treated as “occupiers”.
“All of the casualties were civilians”. “This is not an offensive to defeat ISIS, but a naked effort by one dictator to protect another and crush moderate Syrian opposition forces“.
USA officials and others cast doubt on that claim, saying the Russians appeared to be attacking opposition groups fighting government forces in western parts of Syria where the extremists aren’t operating.
“I am pleased that the Russians have said they are going to intervene and I hope very much that it helps contribute to the extinguishing of this appalling threat to mankind”.
The U.S. and Russian militaries could hold talks as early as Thursday on ensuring that they do not inadvertently come into conflict in their respective air strikes in Syria, USA secretary of state John Kerry said.
ISIS is not known to have a pressence in Idlib, as the entire area is controlled by al Nusra and its allies. Both groups have fighters from the former Soviet Union, including Chechens.
In defending the operation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that “the only true way to combat worldwide terrorism, which is rampant in Syria and its neighboring countries, is to act preemptively”.
In doing so, McDonald said he believes that Putin is staking his claim to Russia’s presence as a power and a player in the Middle East, and represents a reassertion of Russian stature.
“We are clear that if Russian Federation wants to join with the coalition in air strikes against [ISIS] then we would welcome that”, Philip Hammond, the United Kingdom foreign secretary, told reporters. Kirby also said the official “requested that US aircraft avoid Syrian airspace during these missions”.
Kerry also said the U.S.-led coalition would “dramatically accelerate” its efforts.
Lavrov insisted that the fate of President Assad should be determined by the Syrians themselves and that Russian Federation was not seeking change of regime in Damascus. The civil war has killed more than 250,000 people and wounded a million, according to United Nations figures.
He warned that the intervention would spark a “war of liberation” against Russian Federation and Iran, the main foreign supporters of embattled President Bashar Al Assad.