Subscribe

US defense chief: Russian airstrikes targeted non-ISIS areas in Syria

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said the strikes highlight a contradiction in Russia's approach. He said the Russians should not be supporting the Assad government, and their military moves are "doomed to fail."

  • close
    In this image made from video provided by Homs Media Centre, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, smoke rises after airstrikes by military jets in Talbiseh of the Homs province, western Syria, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. Russian military jets carried out airstrikes in Syria for the first time on Wednesday, targeting what Moscow said were Islamic State positions. US officials and others cast doubt on that claim, saying the Russians appeared to be attacking opposition groups fighting Syrian government forces.
    Homs Media Centre/AP
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday that the Russian airstrikes in Syria appear to have targeted areas that do not include Islamic State fighters, a development which Secretary of State John Kerry said would cause "grave concern" for the United States.

Kerry told the United Nations Security Council that the US would not object to Russians hitting Islamic State or Al Qaeda targets but airstrikes just to strengthen the hand of Syrian President Bashar Assad would be worrisome.

"It does appear they were in in areas where there probably were not ISIL forces," Carter said of the Russian airstrikes, using an alternative acronym for Islamic State. He would not go into more detail.

The top national security officials spoke as Russia launched its first airstrikes in Syria targeting what it said were Islamic State positions. On Wednesday, some US-backed rebel groups claimed they were hit by Russian airstrikes but those claims could not be confirmed.

Carter said the strikes highlight a contradiction in Russia's approach. He said the Russians should not be supporting the Assad government, and their military moves are "doomed to fail."

Carter also expressed disappointment that the Russians did not use formal channels to provide the US with advance notice of its airstrikes, but instead sent an official to the US Embassy in Baghdad.

"By supporting Assad and seemingly taking on everyone who is fighting Assad, you're taking on the whole rest of the country of Syria," Carter said. "That is not our position. At least some parts of the anti-Assad opposition belong in the political transition going forward. That's why . the Russian approach is doomed to fail."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the new action "calls into question their strategy, because when President Putin and President Obama had the opportunity to meet at the UN earlier this week much of their discussion was focused on the need for a political transition inside Syria."

Kerry said Russian operations must not support Assad or interfere with those of the US-led coalition that is already attacking Islamic State targets. He called for an urgent start to military-to-military talks to prevent a conflict between Russia and the coalition, suggesting they begin this week.

"If Russia's recent actions and those now ongoing reflect a genuine commitment to defeat (the Islamic State) then we are prepared to welcome those efforts and to find a way to de-conflict our operations and thereby multiply military pressure on ISIL and affiliated groups," Kerry said. "But we must not and will not be confused in our fight against ISIL with support for Assad."

"Moreover, we have also made clear that we would have grave concerns should Russia strike areas where ISIL and al-Qaida affiliated targets are not operating," he said. "Strikes of that kind would question Russia's real intentions fighting ISIL or protecting the Assad regime."

Kerry also said the US-led coalition would "dramatically accelerate" its efforts.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov followed Kerry, saying Russia is ready to "forge standing channels of communication to ensure a maximally effective fight." He listed countries with a key role to play in resolving the chaos in Syria, including Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, the US, and China.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK