One day after Turkey shot down a Russian bomber over the Latakia Province in northwestern Syria, Russian warplanes were back in force, pounding rebel targets along the border region, in particular al-Qaeda sites near where the plane was downed.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported at least 12 airstrikes in the area, and Syrian Turkmen rebels, from the faction which killed Russia’s pilot yesterday, reported taking heavy artillery shelling along with fire from Russian warships.
US and Turkish officials have complained that the Russian airstrikes are not exclusively targeting ISIS, but are also hitting other rebel factions, some of which they support. The Turkmen are backed heavily by the Turkish government, and US weapons were turned on Russian rescue helicopters yesterday trying to recover the lost pilots.
Though Russia has also targeted ISIS heavily, much of their early focus in the air war is in securing the Syrian coast, where a Russian naval base is, from advancing rebels that are part of al-Qaeda’s coalition.
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