Russia bombs Syrian targets for 4th day as international concerns grow
SYRIA — Russian forces bombed Syrian targets for a fourth day despite international concerns over Moscow’s intentions in the war-torn nation.
The Russian defense ministry said its soldiers bombed nine ISIS positions Saturday near the terror group’s de facto capital in Raqqa.
In the past 24 hours, the air force conducted 20 airstrikes near Raqqa, the defense ministry said.
Tactical bombers destroyed various militant facilities, including ammunition and oil depots, and all-terrain vehicles, the defense ministry said in a statement.
New day, more bombs
Saturday marks the fourth day Russia has carried out airstrikes in Syria.
And with every passing day, the international community raises alarms over Moscow’s intentions.
In a joint statement, a coalition made up of the United States, Britain, Turkey, France, Germany, Qatar and Saudi Arabia accused Russia of attacking the Syrian opposition and civilians, instead of fighting ISIS.
“These military actions constitute a further escalation and will only fuel more extremism and radicalization,” the statement said.
It questioned whether Russia’s primary concern is attacking ISIS or propping up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Russia defends airstrikes
Russia has denied it conducted any strikes against civilians, and maintained it is targeting the brutal militant group.
“There were no strikes against civilian infrastructure, especially against buildings where there could have been or were peaceful residents,” the defense ministry said.
As the diplomatic squabble grows, the White House downplayed Russia’s decision to launch the strikes without coordinating with the United States.
Russia gave the U.S. a one-hour warning before it launched airstrikes in the western Syrian city of Homs on Wednesday. Moscow told the U.S. aircraft battling ISIS in Homs to leave Syrian airspace.
The U.S. did not leave, raising the possibility of military mishaps between the two powers as their forces operate in the same area.
The Pentagon has suggested Russia is backing close ally al-Assad — who appears to be losing his grip on power as the nation’s years-long civil war continues unabated.
U.S. defense officials have warned that Russia’s move will inflame the civil war and set back efforts to drive out ISIS.