File photo for the Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking to his air forces
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DAMASCUS – Russia has conducted its first airstrikes “against the Islamic State’s (ISIS) terrorists in Syria”, Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday.
“The airstrike targeted ISIS military equipment, communications centers, vehicles and ammunition,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.
However, Syrian activists in Homs reported that the Russian strikes bombed opposition-held areas of Rastan, Talbiseh and Zafaraniya in Homs province.
“Wednesday’s strikes proved that Russia’s target in Syria is not ISIS but the anti-Assad rebel groups,” spokesman of the opposition-linked Shamia Front Saleh al-Zein told ARA News.
“Russia presents itself as a fighter against terrorism, while it backed Assad for more than four years in killing innocent people across Syria,” he said.
“Today, Russian warplanes are bombing the opposition-held areas in Homs and the international community is doing nothing about it,” al-Zein said.
“Putin and his government have been involved in killing Syrian people since the outbreak of the Syrian uprising, and today their forces are moving freely on the Syrian territory and they are striking our rebel forces under the pretext of fighting ISIS,” the Shamia spokesman told ARA News.
In the meantime, a senior U.S. administration official said that the Russian airstrikes in Homs have “no strategic purpose” in terms of combating ISIS, “which shows they are not there to go after ISIL (ISIS)”.
The official told the CNN that 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 added.
Reporting by: Laila Majdalawi