Russia’s defense ministry says its air force carried out around 20 missions targeting Islamic State militants in Syria on Wednesday and destroyed eight positions belonging to the extremists, including a command center.
However Khaled Khoja, head of the Syrian National Council opposition group, said that Russian airstrikes had killed 36 civilians, with five children among the dead.
The White House said on Thursday it could not confirm reports that Iranian troops have launched a ground offensive in Syria, but said any such development would be an “apt and powerful illustration” that Russia’s military actions have worsened the conflict.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks at the United Nations that they agreed their countries should meet very soon on the Syrian situation.
Those concerns have risen in the past 24 hours after Russian Federation began a series of airstrikes on rebel targets.
Russia, which has recently increased its military aid to Syria, said the move aims to combat terrorism according to global law.
Earlier, Vladimir Putin denied that civilians had been killed in Wednesday’s opening salvos.
The airstrikes on Wednesday night targeted four Islamic State facilities, Konashenkov said.
Despite this, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it does not intend joining a US-led coalition in the fight against IS militants.
All are opposed to IS and have fought bloody battles with the jihadist group.
CNN’s Matthew Chance reports from Moscow that the Syrian ambassador to Russia has announced that Russian forces are targeting “all rebel groups”, not just ISIS.
After the meetings it was concluded that the IDF and Russian military would set up a joint working group to coordinate their Syria-related activities in the aerial, naval, and electromagnetic arenas, a senior defense source said.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said Russia’s airstrikes in support of Syria’s Assad regime were “pouring gasoline on the fire” and urged Russian Federation to seek a political settlement in the country wracked by civil war.
Russian Federation is not planning to expand its air campaign to neighbouring Iraq, he added, stressing that there had been no such request from the Baghdad government.