Russian officials today confirmed that in addition to airstrikes against ISIS, they are launching strikes targeting other terrorist groups inside Syria, including al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra. This was likely the target of some of today’s strikes in Idlib Province, which is dominated by al-Qaeda.
Russian officials noted that many of their early strikes hit ISIS troops and command centers in the Homs Province, and rejected claims that the attacks were overwhelmingly against other rebel factions which the US views more favorably.
Indeed, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sought to parallel Russia’s approach to that of the US and its partners, saying “the coalition does the same as Russia does” in attacking ISIS affiliates around the country as well as other Islamist factions.
That’s true, of course, and many of the same rebels condemning Russia today were condemning the US early in its air campaign against Syria for targeting al-Qaeda and Islamic Front fighters, insisting they are proper rebel groups and shouldn’t be targets.
Russia’s attempt to parallel the US in Syria is potential risky, however, given how unsuccessful the US air war in Syria has been. The US has been attacking ISIS in Iraq and Syria for over a year now without much to show for it, and Russia is doubtless hoping for different results, even if the tactics are disconcertingly similar.
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