- Muslim Chechen leader wants ‘opportunity’ to fight terror group in Syria
- Russia blitzed dozens of targets in Syria – but U.S. says none held by ISIS
- Moscow foreign minister Lavrov rejected the ‘rumours’ as ‘unfounded’
- U.S. was only given hour notice of strikes which killed at least 36 civilians
- Russia and the U.S. agree to hold urgent talks to avoid clashes in Syria
Vladimir Putin has signed a decree drafting nearly 150,000 conscripts into the Russian military as Moscow’s warplanes unleashed a new wave of airstrikes in Syria.
The timing of the move – on the very day Russia entered the Syrian conflict yesterday – will raise suspicions the Russian President is planning a wider offensive to prop up his Syrian counterpart.
It also comes after one of Putin’s staunchest allies called on him to send in Muslim ground troops to defeat the Islamic State and other Islamist extremist groups.
A spokesman for the Russian President, however, insisted the signing of the decree was not related to the conflict.
‘This is a regular document which the president signs twice a year.’ Dmitry Peskov said in comments reported by Sputnik News.
‘It is not related to Syria in any way, of course, this situation does not concern the draftees in any way.’
It came as Moscow said it had attacked 12 targets belonging to the Islamic State, including a command centre in Hama and an ammunition depots in Idlib, on its second day of bombing runs.
But a Syrian security source said they had also targeted a powerful coalition of Islamist rebels which includes Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate and which is fiercely opposed to ISIS.
‘Air strikes from four Russian warplanes struck bases held by the Army of Conquest in Jisr al-Shughur and Jabal al-Zawiya in Idlib province,’ the source said, adding that arms depots held by ‘armed groups’ in neighbouring Hama province were also targeted.
A member of the Army of Conquest, which controls Idlib province and has advanced west towards Assad’s coastal heartland of Latakia, said on Twitter that ‘Russian pigs’ had flattened a mosque in Jisr al-Shughur.