Russia intensified its bombardment of militant targets in Syria with warplanes flying more than 20 missions, as U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron joined calls for Moscow to change course in an intervention he described as a “grave mistake.”
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday that 10 Islamic State positions in Syria had been attacked in the past 24 hours, including militant training camps in Raqqa and Idlib provinces. Russian strikes have broken “the management and logistics of the terrorist organization” and caused “significant damage to the infrastructure used for preparation of terrorist attacks,” the ministry said on its website. Laser-guided and concrete-piercing ordnance had been used, it said.
The Russian military’s direct entry into Syria’s civil war last week in support of its ally, President Bashar al-Assad, has stirred anger in the U.S., Europe and Middle East, where leaders accuse Moscow of targeting western-backed rebel forces opposed to Assad as well as the jihadists of Islamic State.
President Barack Obama said Saturday that Russia will get “stuck in a quagmire” if it persists in using military force to prop up Assad’s government. The U.S. is intent on destroying Islamic State, and Obama said the country’s larger civil war requires a political resolution that would remove Assad, “a brutal, ruthless dictator.” In a joint declaration on Friday, the U.S., France, Saudi Arabia and four other nations had condemned Russia for the strikes.
Military officials from Russia and the U.S. began discussing operations inside Syria last week in an attempt to avoid an inadvertent confrontation in the country’s skies. A U.S.-led coalition of 65 countries has conducted more than 7,000 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria in the last year, according to the Defense Department.
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