Most Russian airstrikes in Syria not against militants: US

Washington, Oct 8 (IANS/EFE) Over 90 percent of airstrikes by Russia in Syria since the last one week have not been targeted at the Islamic State, or IS, or groups with links to the Al Qaeda, the US said.

“Greater than 90 percent of the strikes that we’ve seen them take to date have not been against IS or Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists,” said state department spokesman John Kirby on Wednesday.

“They’ve been largely against opposition groups that want a better future for Syria and don’t want to see the Assad regime stay in power,” Kirby added.

This is the first time the US government has cited figures about the targets of Russian strikes in Syria that began end of September.

Opposition groups in Syria have been accusing Russia of causing civilian casualties in attacks that they say are not targeting the IS.

Russia has denied the allegations and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the bombings in Syria, like those of the US and its allies, were only aimed at militants belonging to the IS, the al-Nusra Front and other groups affiliated to them.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Russia took another step in its involvement in the Syrian civil war with the launch of cruise missiles, fired from warships in the Caspian Sea.

In a meeting with the defence minister, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the Russian airforce will coordinate the strikes against IS positions with a ground offensive by the Syrian army against militant groups in the heart of the country.

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