by Jason Ditz
Russian warplanes have begun their first airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria, with President Putin saying he is concerned about the continued ISIS takeover of the region, and fear that ISIS forces might threaten European countries, including Russia, if they weren’t stopped.
A statement from the Syrian state media says President Bashar al-Assad formally requested help from Russia in the ongoing civil war, and that the airstrikes began in response to that. U.S. officials slammed the move, saying Assad has to be removed from power.
The first Russian strikes targeted western Homs Province, with the Russian Defense Ministry saying they believe the positions hit belong to ISIS. Another rebel faction, however, claimed they were the ones that were hit, and also claimed Russia deliberately targeted civilians in the area.
According to US officials, Russia gave them an hour’s notice on the airstrikes, and advised them to remove US and coalition warplanes from Syrian airspace during the bombing run. There was no confirmation, however, if the US actually did this.