Reacting to criticism that it is targeting opponents of the Syrian government, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted on Thursday, October 1, that Russia’s airstrikes in Syria are targeting not only Islamic State militants but also other groups, the Associated Press reports.
Russia on Wednesday carried out its first airstrikes in Syria in what President Vladimir Putin called a pre-emptive strike against the militants. Twenty airstrikes destroyed a command center of Islamic State militants as well as ammunition depots, the defense ministry said.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday that Russia was going after IS militants as well as a “list” of other groups.
“These organizations are well known and the targets are chosen in coordination with the armed forces of Syria,” he said, without giving specific names.
Sergei Ivanov, Putin’s chief of staff, said on Wednesday that “the operation’s target is solely air support for the Syrian government forces in their fight against the ISIS.”
Speaking later in the day, Putin said Russia would be fighting “gangs of international terrorists” and then went on to talk about IS.
Asked Thursday whether Putin was satisfied with the way the Russian campaign was going, Peskov said it was “too early” to say.
In Paris, Russian Ambassador Alexander Orlov insisted that Russian warplanes in Syria were hitting at the same extremists targeted by the United States and denied American claims that its military failed to coordinate the airstrikes, describing the allegations as a “war of disinformation.”