When Russian President Vladimir Putin got approval from the Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Federal Assembly, the air campaign began. Russia had asked the United States to clear Syrian airspace, a request that was denied by Secretary of State John Kerry. While the Russians said they were targeting ISIS in the country, the U.S. has “grave concerns” about the strikes, namely that some of the targets were non-ISIS. Russia responded by saying the allegation was “total rubbish,” yet the Guardian reported that non-ISIS targets has been hit by Russian bombers.
The Russian intervention is generating some serious heartburn with some of the regional rivals–and the U.S. is trying to ensure that both of their air force’s pilots do not come into conflict with one another. The latter part is yet to be resolved:
Russian combat aircraft have carried out a second day of airstrikes against Syrian rebel forces as Moscow admitted it had targeted groups other than Islamic State in coordination with the government in Damascus.
Russian and US military commanders began “de-confliction” talks to try to ensure their air forces did not inadvertently clash while conducting overlapping air campaigns. But a videoconference between Pentagon officials and their Russian counterparts ended without clear decisions on avoiding potential clashes between pilots.
The Russian defence ministry said its planes hit 12 Isis targets, including a command centre and two arms depots, although the areas where it said the strikes took place are not held by Isis.
Iran officially threw its weight behind the Russian campaign on Thursday. A foreign ministry spokeswoman said Moscow had her country’s full support in the strikes against what she described as terrorist groups.
Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional rival, and Turkey, which is at odds with Tehran over Assad’s fate, are deeply unhappy about the Russian involvement. Iran has played an instrumental role in propping up Assad’s regime by supplying him with financial and military support.