Russian air strikes hit Syrian opposition, not IS group: US official

Damaged buildings and a minaret in the central Syrian town of Talbisseh in the Homs province on Sept 30, 2015.
Damaged buildings and a minaret in the central Syrian town of Talbisseh in the Homs province on Sept 30, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Russia's air strikes in Syria on Wednesday (Sept 30) targeted opposition forces and not Islamic State jihadists, a US defense official said, contradicting Russian claims.

"We have not seen any strikes against ISIL, what we have seen is strikes against Syrian opposition," the official said, referring to the Islamic State group.

The Russian defense ministry had earlier in the day said its strikes targeted IS militants.

 
 

The defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the targets were the same ones Russian reconnaissance craft had flown over in recent days.

"They are striking areas that they've looked at over the past week or so," the official said.

Russian warplanes carried out strikes in Homs province, US officials said, while a Syrian security source and state media said Hama province was also hit.

The Pentagon has repeatedly warned of the need for "deconfliction" to ensure coalition and Russian planes don't inadvertently cross paths.

Russia only gave the United States an hour's warning ahead of the strikes and did not specify where they would occur, riling many in the Pentagon who had been hoping for clearer and more detailed lines of communication.