Russian warships launch rockets on Islamic State in Syria

The United States will not cooperate militarily with Russian Federation in Syria because Moscow’s strategy is “tragically flawed”, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Wednesday in his strongest comments yet on the issue.

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He said the operation destroyed all the targets and did not launch any strikes upon civilian areas.

“In the upcoming few days or weeks, I think Iraq will be forced to ask Russian Federation to launch air strikes, and that depends on their success in Syria“, Hakim al-Zamili, a leading Shi’ite politician, told Reuters in an interview.

Heavy fighting has broken out in central Syria as government troops backed by Russian air strikes battle insurgents, activists said. Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman says it is “the most intense fighting in months”.

And despite Australia not having flown a mission over Syria since last week, Admiral Johnston said that “if there was a mission tonight to do so, we would do so”.

Admiral Johnston conceded it was not clear that Russia’s engagement in the regional conflagration was complementary to the Western allies’ aim of degrading and destroying Islamic State, also known as Daesh.

The observatory, which has a network of activists on the ground, and al-Ahmad said the main launching point for government forces is the town of Morek on the highway that links the capital, Damascus, with the northern city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and former commercial centre.

The Observatory also reported several Russian strikes in the northwest of Aleppo province, including one on Wednesday morning that it said killed two women and a child.

Iraq may also request Russian strikes against IS militants on its soil soon and wants Moscow to have a bigger role than the USA in the war against the group, the head of parliament’s defence and security committee said on Wednesday. Syrian militants insisted on retreating from a number of settlements fearing a large-scale offensive by the Syrian army and Russian airstrikes, while the foreigners refused to withdraw. Now the Navy is joining Russia’s Air Force in the operation.

Though IS has no presence in the areas hit on Wednesday, al Qaida’s affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front, is active in central and northern parts of the country – as are the Western-backed rebels.

Since September 30, Russia has been targeting Islamic State positions in Syria with aerial bombings, according to Russian and Syrian officials.

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Russian military is willing to expand cooperation with the US-led coalition in Syria, Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov said on Tuesday.

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