Russia Carries Out Airstrikes in Syria for 2nd Day – New York Times
BEIRUT, Lebanon — In a second day of raids in Syria, Russian warplanes carried out a new round of airstrikes on Thursday in the northwestern province of Idlib that targeted not the Islamic State but a rival insurgent coalition, according to accounts from some journalists and activists.
Al Mayadeen, a Lebanon-based news channel that leans toward the Syrian government, reported that Russia was targeting “a known list of terrorist organizations” that it had agreed on with the Syrian Army.
Mostapha al-Nayrab, an antigovernment activist in Idlib Province, said that Russian warplanes had bombed many areas in the south and west of the province, hitting both insurgent bases and a mosque where five civilians were killed.
Russian officials, however, insisted that they had hit four objects of the Islamic State: a “terrorist headquarters” and arms depot near the city of Idlib; a three-story command bunker near Hama, a city about 60 miles to the south; and a bomb factory in Homs, which is an additional 30 miles to the south. The airstrikes began on Wednesday to the north and northeast of Homs. The Islamic State has been most active in areas significantly to the east of those cities.
Graphic | Mapping the Battle for Syria: Russian Airstrikes Hit Rebel Areas Maps show that most of the areas hit by the airstrikes are controlled by rebel groups and that they are not in Islamic State territory.
RIA, a Russian state news agency, said airstrikes by the Syrian military, which is working with the Russian Air Force, had killed 107 militants, including three commanders of the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, near Homs.
Konstantin Kosaychov, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the Russian Senate, denied the charge that Russia was overlooking Islamic State targets and instead attacking other opponents Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. “There is no evidence able to prove these groundless claims that are being spread today,” he said.
The strikes on Thursday targeted the Army of Conquest, a coalition of insurgent groups that includes the Nusra Front, the hard-line Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham and a range of less extreme Islamist groups — all of which are opposed to the Islamic State.
Often fighting alongside the Army of Conquest are relatively secular groups from what is left of the loose-knit Free Syrian Army, including some that have received United States training and …Read More