October 1, 2015
Are Russian Airstrikes In Syria Targeting ISIS? -- U.S. Accuses Putin Of Bombing Anti-Assad Rebels

Russian airstrikes in Syria came as a complete shock to the U.S. who is now accusing Vladimir Putin of not targeting ISIS, but anti-Assad forces supported by America.

Experts are concerned that with the crowded skies over Syria, it's only a matter of time before an unintended or perhaps purposeful altercation happens between U.S. and Russian fighter jets. The Obama administration was clearly caught off-guard and was left scrambling when they received news of the impending Russian airstrikes in Syria only an hour before hostilities.

According to an exclusive report from Fox News, previously reported by the Inquisitr on Wednesday, a three-star Russian general delivered the news to diplomats at the American Embassy in Baghdad. The low-level official requested the U.S. withdrawal from the area and reportedly used the word "please" during the tense meeting.

To say that this is not how international relationships work would be an understatement. Especially after a seemingly civil, though not friendly, meeting between President Obama and Vladimir Putin, during which -- according to sources -- they agreed on rules that would "deconflict" tensions in the area. However, when the Russian airstrikes in Syria started, Putin essentially "bypassed that process."

"That's not how responsible nations do business," the source said.

Not only did Russia unilaterally began to conduct airstrikes in Syria, but the U.S. is claiming Putin is not targeting ISIS, but anti-Assad forces fighting the brutal dictator who is responsible for a civil war that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions, creating one of the worst immigration crisis in recent history.

The Institute for the Study of War shared a map that shows where the Russian airstrikes in Syria are happening, which is far from ISIS strongholds in the country. Indeed, if this information is correct, Putin is bombing rebel positions, which would pitch him directly opposite U.S. operations.

Russian airstrikes
Map of Russian airstrikes (Image via ISW)

One of those concerned that the fresh Russian airstrikes in Syria could escalate into a conflict with the U.S. is Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, who in an interview with Business Insider said Putin is ensuring that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will stay put.

"The Russians have unilaterally imposed a military solution to make sure Assad stays in power, publicly defeating U.S. stated Syria policy in so doing. That's a clear win for Putin, especially putting the quiet — for now — Ukraine off the headlines."

"But they've also created conditions for expanded conflict in Syria. A stronger Assad without a Russian — or [international] — ground game against ISIS will lead to more conditions for ISIS recruitment. And while the U.S. and Russia will engage in direct military talks to 'deconflict' any strikes, the chances for accidents go way up — especially given the many military members of the coalition. The U.S. and allies will ignore Russian calls to avoid Syrian airspace the same way the Russians ignored the U.S. on Assad."

So here is what is happening over Syrian skies. The U.S.-led coalition is bombing ISIS strongholds, Russian airstrikes are targeting rebels, scattered across the area, while pro-Assad forces are trying to hold on to their positions.

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, standing with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the U.N., said the two countries would have a military-led "deconfliction" meeting "soon," possibly as early as Thursday. In the meantime, the U.S. operations in the area will not change, according to the Pentagon.

On the same day, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter voiced his concerns about Russia's "contradictory position" in Syria, saying Putin's decision to conduct airstrikes at the request of Bashar al-Assad is "tantamount to pouring gasoline on the fire." Carter added that by supporting Assad, Russia is taking on all other forces in the region, an approach he labeled as "doomed to fail."

"It does appear that they were in areas where there probably were not ISIL forces, and that is precisely one of the problems with this whole approach.

This is not the kind of behavior that we should expect professionally from the Russian military."

To complicate matters further, Damascus is accusing the U.S.-led coalition of violating international law, saying they have not received an invitation from Syria to conduct operations against ISIS, according to Sputnik. Furthermore, the Syrian Foreign Minister said Russian airstrikes are legal, as Assad requested Putin's help. Both countries are known allies.

[Photo by Getty Images]