Russia has begun launching air strikes in Syrian territory today with the aim of combatting enemies of President al-Assad. Reports differ as to whether this military action has affected the Islamic State and the areas it controls – the BBC reports that the United States have no intelligence to support this thesis, whereas the German news service ZDFheute indicates ammunition and fuel depots about 200 kilometres from Damascus were hit, relying on Russian military reports.
Civilian infrastructure in the surrounding areas were supposedly not hit. Activist however maintain that among the 36 killed in the villages of Zafaraneh, Rastan and Talbiseh there were a number of children dead, and none of these villages were host to IS-militia or their activities. The US have spoken out against the presence of Russia should its activity target non-IS forces, as the US is not in support of al-Assad’s continued presidency over the country unlike Russia. According to Jonathan Marcus of the BBC this is being interpreted by the US as action to eliminate opposition to al-Assad.[video:https://youtu.be/0paCx3MQ318]
Putin received permission of the upper house of parliament to use military force, and says this strategy is forward-thinking, as it beats IS on their territory, preempting any further advances. Putin believes that this action will prevent the spread of IS, as far as Russia even. This is not in coordination with the American efforts in Syria, leading to concerns by the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, who voiced these at the United Nations Security Council. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg too has spoken out against Russia’s action which runs parallel to that of the US-led coalition with little coordination.