Russian Aircraft Strike Opposition Targets in Syria
Russian warplanes have launched their first strikes on Syrian opposition targets, Fox News and Reuters reported on Wednesday.
The airstrikes, carried out by a "couple" of Russian bombers, were launched at targets near the city of Homs, located about 100 km east of a Russian naval base in Tartus, according to a senior US military official, Fox News said.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the airstrikes targeted positions of the Islamic State group, al-Qaeda or other forces opposed to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, received permission from parliament for Russian forces to take part in bombing raids earlier on Wednesday. The Federation Council, the upper House of Russia’s Parliament, approved at a closed door session a request submitted by Putin to authorise the use of troops in Syria.
The airstrikes came shotly after U.S. Defense Department officials ignored an official request from Russia to clear air space over northern Syria, where Moscow intends to conduct airstrikes against Islamic State targets on behalf of Bashar al-Assad, Fox News said, citing sources.
Putin's request came two days after his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in New York, where theydiscussed Russia's recent military buildup in Syria.
Russia will only provide aviation support to the Syrian government forces, Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said on Wednesday commenting on the decision to authorise the use of Russian Armed Forces abroad.
"I will stress it — we are talking only about providing aviation support to the actions of the regular Syrian army. We are not talking about participating in a ground operation," she added, according to TASS.
The Russian news agency also quoted a spokesman for the Defence Ministry in Moscow as telling reporters on Wednesday: "Russian warplanes have been attacking military equipment, communication centers, motor vehicles as well munition and fuel depots of the Islamic State terrorists."
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