Syria conflict: Russian Federation defends air strikes

The Russian defense ministry said late Wednesday that Russia carried out 20 airstrikes.

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Moscow said it had hit Islamic State positions, but the area where it struck is held by a rival insurgent alliance, which unlike Islamic State is supported by U.S. allies including Arab states and Turkey.

Here & Now’s Robin Young turns to security analyst Jim Walsh to discuss this escalating conflict that now involves just about all world’s major powers. Orlov told France Info radio the planes were acting as air support for Syrian ground troops.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Thursday that a few Russian targets included CIA-backed rebels fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

On Wednesday, Kerry announced that Russian Federation and the United States had agreed to hold military-to-military talks on Syria, concerning their separate efforts.

“We, of course, have a few different views on the events in the region, but we are united on one thing: We are all anxious about the rise of the terrorist threat in the region”, Lavrov said during a news conference Thursday at the United Nations in New York.

The Syrian opposition National Coalition also denounced the Russian air strikes.

The Pentagon said it would begin talks Thursday with Russian military officials on ways to avoid USA and Russian forces firing on each other in Syria as tensions escalate over Russian airstrikes that apparently are serving to strengthen Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“We targeted ISIL-associated depots, armaments and sites,” he said, using an acronym for Islamic State.

Mr. Earnest said Russian forces are carrying out “indiscriminate” attacks in areas where the Islamic State militants are not operating.

The Syrian civil war, which grew out of an uprising against Assad, has killed more than 250,000 people since March 2011 and sent millions of refugees fleeing to other countries in the Middle East and Europe.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the report.

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But Mr Lavrov has defended the action, claiming that the old Cold War foes “see eye-to-eye” on the targets of their fight against terrorism in Syria. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, those other groups include Tajamu Alezzah, a US-backed group in Hama, as well as the al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.

Civil defense members put out the flames on a burning military vehicle in Syria on Oct. 1