Russian jets carry out strikes in Syria

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Su-34 of the type stationed in Latakia.
Image: Oleg V. Belyakov - AirTeamImages.

Russian jets stationed reportedly in the Syrian city of Latakia have been carrying out air strikes since yesterday, in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, having notified the United States an hour before.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the strikes against Islamist militants who "if they succeed in Syria [...] will come to Russia, too", and clarified he would not be sending ground troops to participate in the Syrian Civil War. He called on Assad to engage in dialogue with "healthy" opposition groups.

The ITAR-Tass news agency reported earlier yesterday Putin had been given the green light for the air raids by the upper chamber of Russia's legislature. The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said Russia responded after Assad had sent a letter seeking assistance from Putin. SANA also reported the strikes were carried out in conjunction with the Syrian Air Force and had focussed on ISIS facilities in a number of locations.

establish channels of communications to avoid any unintended incidents

—Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister

The US State Department said US aircraft would continue to operate throughout the region. An agreement to hold military talks was announced by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry. Lavrov said it was necessary to "establish channels of communications to avoid any unintended incidents". However, US officials questioned the purpose of the Russian strikes, stating the targeted areas were unlikely to be under ISIS control.

Syrian opposition groups claimed there have been civilian casualties as a direct consequence of the strikes. The Syrian National Coalition said several children were amongst 36 people who died after planes struck several towns, whilst the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed there had been 28 deaths.