Wasting No Time, Putin Strikes Syria

But no one's sure if he's targeting ISIS
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2015 8:50 AM CDT
Wasting No Time, Putin Strikes Syria
Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen at a news conference in Copenhagen, April 26, 2011.   (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)

Russian lawmakers gave Vladimir Putin the thumbs-up to conduct airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday, and the president didn't waste any time. Giving the US Embassy in Baghdad just an hour's notice, Russian military aircraft started the strikes near the city of Homs in western Syria, a senior US official confirmed to ABC News. The advance notice given to the US Embassy came in the form of a senior Russian military official who would only say Russian aircraft would be flying in Syria's airspace, reportedly keeping mum on exactly where the strikes would take place, ABC notes. Per Russia's Interfax, Putin said that the strikes were born of a Syrian request and that they were in accordance with international law. What's not clear: whether he's targeting ISIS, which doesn't have a major presence in Homs, or rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad.

"There doesn't seem to be any operational effect on (ISIS) where they are flying," says the US official. That conflicts with what a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman told Russian news agencies Wednesday, noting that targeted strikes are being carried out on sites that Russians believe are under the control of ISIS, per the AP. The US official said US operations in Syria would remain unaffected by Putin's latest move, even though Russia had asked the US to keep its warplanes out of Syrian airspace, CNN reports. It's not clear what kind of aircraft was used. (Read more Vladimir Putin stories.)

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