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Russia Tells America to Get Out of Syria, then Russian Airstrikes Begin; Who Are They Bombing?

News Staff : Sep 30, 2015  CBN News

Russia has reportedly launched airstrikes in Syria, near Damascus, on Wednesday morning. There is reportedly no ISIS stronghold in the area, which begs the question, who is Russia targeting?

[CBN News] Russia launched airstrikes in Syria today, raising new concerns about [the] Kremlin's plans to prop up the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. (Photo via CBN News)

Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to portray the airstrikes as a pre-emptive attack against the Islamic State militants who have taken over large parts of Syria and Iraq.

But U.S. officials and others cast doubt on that claim, saying the Russians appeared to be attacking opposition groups fighting Syrian government forces.

Earlier in the day, Russian leaders told the United States to get its warplanes out of Syria immediately in a new sign that the Kremlin is growing more aggressive in its push for dominance there.

That report came from a senior military official who told Fox News that Russian diplomats issued the demand through an official protest to the United States.

It all comes as Russian lawmakers voted unanimously Wednesday to give President Vladimir Putin a green light to send troops into Syria. Russia had already been building up its military presence there to help their ally, Assad, hold on to power.

Putin discussed his plan to fight ISIS with President Barack Obama at the U.N. General Assembly in New York this week.

That came after U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter had a 50-minute phone call last week with his Russian counterpart, the first such military-to-military discussion between the two countries in more than a year.

Washington has reportedly been hoping to "deconflict" U.S. and Russian military actions, worried by the threat of Russian and U.S. jets clashing inadvertently over Syrian skies.

Israel has taken similar precautions, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting Moscow last week to agree with Putin on a coordination mechanism to avoid any possible confrontation between Israeli and Russian forces in Syria.

The United States and Russia have competing visions for the Middle East, and Russia's latest military moves are seen as a sign that America is losing influence in the region.

The last time Putin sought approval for troops overseas was when he took the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014.

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