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Carter: Russian Airstrikes ‘Pouring Gas on Fire’ in Syria

by Molly McKitterick VOA

Russia’s decision to begin airstrikes in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime “is tantamount to pouring gasoline on the fire” of the Middle East country’s four-year civil war, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday.
Russia has begun bombing near the western Syrian city of Homs, U.S. defense officials say.
In an afternoon news conference, the Pentagon chief reiterated that the United States would continue to lead coalition airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria, ignoring Russia’s request for U.S. aircraft to avoid that airspace.

Russia began bombing attacks Wednesday in support of the Syrian government.

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said a Russian general in Baghdad had given U.S. Embassy personnel short notice earlier in the morning of the planned strikes in Syria against Islamic State targets.

“The U.S.-led coalition will continue to fly missions over Iraq and Syria as planned and in support of our international mission to degrade and destroy ISIL,” Kirby said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

Carter on Tuesday had directed the Pentagon staff to communicate with Russia about coalition activity in Syria, to avoid any mistaken encounter between coalition and Russian forces there, a Pentagon spokesman said.

A Syrian activist also told VOA of suspicious activity.

“Today, Russian planes conducted a series of airstrikes around the suburbs of Homs city,” Bassam Barabandi, a former Syrian diplomat and co-founder of the Syrian activist group People Demand Change, wrote in an email. “They targeted ONLY opposition-held areas of Homs and Hama provinces.”

The actist claimed 32 civilian deaths and six casualties among opposition forces.

The Pentagon source said U.S. pilots were not in danger, because they were flying in other airspace, over Islamic State hotbeds. The coalition struck at Aleppo on Wednesday.

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1 Comment on Carter: Russian Airstrikes ‘Pouring Gas on Fire’ in Syria

  1. ‘Pouring Gas on Fire’

    Perhaps that is the point. There has been some speculation that the refugee crisis could be the straw to break the back of the European Union, and that migration is driven by the conflict after all.

    The best method of increasing the flow of refugees would be to kill civilians in areas that have mostly remained untouched by Assad’s barrel bombs.

    As a bonus, many of those Syrians will not have access to good information, and be convinced that it is US and Australian jets dropping bombs on them.

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