Putin’s act of WAR? Russian air strikes in Syria target British-backed rebels

RUSSIAN warplanes launching air strikes in Syria have bombed rebel groups backed by the West rather than Islamic State (ISIS) militants.

Moscow launched a bombing campaign on ISIS-held territory in Syria after the Russian parliament gave the green light to strikes with the aim of supporting President Bashar al-Assad.

The action was said to be focused on degrading ISIS operations in the country.

But the US and rebels on the ground suggested Russian aircraft were bombing fighters backed by Western powers.

The action pits the UK and its allies directly against Vladimir Putin, plunging the four-year conflict into a dangerous new phase.

Russia’s military intervention in its closest Middle East ally raises the prospect of fresh military and diplomatic tensions between Putin and the West.

Rebels fighting with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) – which receives backing from the UK and US – were hit by Russian warplanes in an attack that left eight wounded.

Syrian opposition chief Khaled Khoja added that Russian air strikes in Syria on Wednesday had killed 36 civilians and no extremist fighters.

“Russia is intending not to fight ISIS, but to prolong the life of Assad,” he told Reuters.

But Moscow defended its action by saying that most of the FSA had joined ISIS, suggesting it could launch further attacks on moderate fighters battling both the jihadi group and Assad.

Full article: Putin’s act of WAR? Russian air strikes in Syria target British-backed rebels (Express)

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