The scene in Baghdad was like something out of a movie: A Russian general appeared at around 9 a.m. on Wednesday at the US embassy in Baghdad, warning America to clear the skies in neighbouring Syria.
As the Syrian conflict enters in its fifth year, the Russian government has started military operations in the war-torn nation as it aims at undermining terrorism there and aiding worldwide efforts for ridding the country from the Islamic State group and restoring peace.
Commanders were heavily vetted by the CIA, with the Wall Street Journal reporting in January that rebel leaders had their email messages and phone calls tapped by USA intelligence, in order to determine their allegiances and levels of control over their fighters.
Lavrov also told reporters that “we believe that our position is absolutely in line with worldwide law”. Earnest did not rule out the possibility that Russian Federation, already under USA sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, could face diplomatic consequences over its actions in Syria, though he suggested that Moscow would suffer more if it is “sucked into a years-long sectarian conflict” there. The representatives of the coalition command have always been saying that their targets are ISIL, al-Nusra and other terrorist groups.
Reuters reported on Thursday that Russian officials have claimed that their airstrikes are targeting terrorists, but the U.S.is saying that Russia is going after anti-Assad rebels instead, a few of whom have received support by the White House.
In contrast, the main Times story on Russia’s first bombing raids in Syria leads with an assumption of Russian motives related as fact: “President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia suddenly escalated the stakes in his contest with the West over influence in the Middle East on Wednesday, as Russian pilots carried out their first airstrikes in Syria“. Before the meeting, French President Francois Hollande, using an Arabic acronym for IS, said it was important that “the strikes, regardless of who is carrying them out, target Daesh and not other groups”.
US and Russian defense officials spoke via video teleconference this morning to discuss ways to maintain safe air operations over Syria, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said.
Putin insisted that reports of civilian deaths came before Russian jets even took off from their bases in Syria. The training is taking place in Turkey and has so far produced less than a hundred fighters.
A man holds a baby that survived what activists said was a site hit by a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the old city of Aleppo, Syria, June 3, 2015. The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the strike.
In an interview with BBC2’s Newsnight Lt Gen Sir Simon Mayall painted a picture of a United Kingdom being in a strategic muddle over Syria and described Russia’s intervention as “hugely significant”.