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Russia carries out first airstrike in Syria, not in Islamic State territory

By
Andrew V. Pestano
Russia released video footage Wednesday showing several airstrikes in Syria. Screenshot/Russian Ministry of Defense
Russia released video footage Wednesday showing several airstrikes in Syria. Screenshot/Russian Ministry of Defense

MOSCOW, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Russia carried out its first airstrike in Syria near the city of Homs soon after Moscow approved the measure, but in an area generally controlled by anti-government rebels -- not the Islamic State.

Russia's upper house of parliament on Wednesday voted to allow military deployment in Syria in order to launch airstrikes against the IS -- also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh -- at the request of President Vladimir Putin after ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad asked Moscow for military aid.

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A U.S. official told CNN that "all military intelligence indicators show that the Russians have conducted their first airstrike in Syria. It took place in the western city of Homs."

Russia's Federation Council chamber voted on the measure after receiving a request from Syria for military aid. Russian ground troops have been ruled out of the conflict, Kremlin Chief of Staff Sergey Ivanov said.

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"The Federation Council unanimously supported the president's request -- 162 votes in favor," Ivanov said, TASS Russian News Agency reported.

Putin asked for parliamentary permission after receiving a request for military assistance from ally Syrian President Assad in the fight against the Islamic State.

"The operation's military goal is exclusively air support of the Syrian armed forces in their fight against ISIL," Ivanov said. "We are not pursing any foreign political goals or ambitions, of which we have been regularly accused. The point is just to defend Russia's national interests."

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More than 250,000 people have died and more than 4 million have been displaced by the Syrian civil war. A U.S.-led coalition, now joined by France since Sunday, has carried out airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq for more than a year.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday said he is willing to work with any nation over the Syrian civil war, including Russia and Iran, during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

"We will not be outlasted by extremists, but while military power is necessary -- it is not sufficient to resolve the situation in Syria. Lasting stability can only take hold when the people of Syria forge an agreement to live together peacefully," Obama told U.N. members. "The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict."

He condemned the "tyrant" Assad "who drops barrel bombs to massacre innocent children."

"Assad reacted to peaceful protests by escalating repression and killing that in turn created the environment for the current strife," Obama said referring to the Syrian civil war and the rise of the IS.

Российская авиационная группа, размещенная на сирийском аэродроме “Хмеймим”, нанесла первые точечные удары по объектам международной террористической организации ИГИЛ.Самолеты ударной авиации, оснащенные современными комплексами поражения, нанесли удары по восьми объектам.Это склады оружия и боеприпасов, горюче-смазочных материалов, боевая техника, пункты управления, узлы связи, транспортные средства боевиков ИГИЛ.Все цели поражены.Такие объекты как командный пункт боевиков и штаб управления террористическими формированиями, находящиеся в горной местности, уничтожены полностью.#ВКС #ИГИЛ #ISIS #Сирия

Posted by Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation on Wednesday, September 30, 2015

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