Russia has conducted its first airstrike in Syria, but there is disagreement between Russian and U.S. officials over whether the target was ISIS or anti-Assad rebel forces.
A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Wednesday claimed that the airstrikes hit ISIS targets. Via CNN:
The airstrike targeted ISIS military equipment, communications centers, vehicles and ammunition, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said, as part of pinpoint strikes against ISIS ground targets.
But a senior U.S. administration official told CNN’s Elise Labott the Russian airstrike near the city of Homs “has no strategic purpose” in terms of combating ISIS, which “shows they are not there to go after ISIL.” ISIL is another acronym for ISIS.
Russia also ordered U.S. airplanes to clear out of Syrian airspace, which the the State Department says they will not do:
The official said the U.S. had no intention of preventing the strikes but that Russian planes didn’t seem to be flying in areas where the U.S. was operating. “They are not stupid,” the official said.
The State Department said U.S.-led coalition missions were continuing as normal despite an advance warning and request from Russia to stay out of Syrian airspace.
Secretary of State John Kerry had a thing or two to say about this:
Secretary of State Kerry told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov that the Russian airstrikes are “not helpful.”
Putin said, in essence, tough.
This is what the Obama policy of “leading from behind” looks like: