Russian Strikes, Day 2: Where We're At
Moscow has continued airstrikes for 2nd day
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2015 8:15 AM CDT
This image taken Wednesday shows the aftermath of an airstrike in Talbiseh, Syria.   (Syria Civil Defence via AP)
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(Newser) – Russia has begun launching airstrikes in Syria for the second straight day despite US concerns, reports the BBC. The Kremlin insisted again Thursday that the strikes are against terrorists, reports Reuters, though the US isn't buying it. American officials say Vladimir Putin is going after rebels trying to overthrow Moscow ally Bashar al-Assad, not ISIS, and the New York Times reports that one of the groups hit Wednesday was in fact trained by the CIA. The Washington Post characterizes US officials as in a "scrambled" response to the fast move by Putin—which came after just an hour's notice—and sets things up thusly: The White House said it "would not be bullied into supporting President Bashar al-Assad and that it was about to significantly expand its own Syrian air operations." John Kerry and Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov had lengthy talks Wednesday, and military officials might meet as early as Thursday. Also:

  • Kerry: "It is one thing, obviously, to be targeting ISIL. We are concerned, obviously, that is not what's happening."
  • Lavrov: "Don't listen to the Pentagon about the Russian strikes."
  • Potential for trouble: "Right now you've got the aircraft of the Syrian air force, the Russian air force, and the US-led coalition operating in a very confined area," a military analyst tells CNN. "These are high-performance aircraft—lots of weapons, lots of people on edge when they're flying these missions."
  • 'New Cold War': "Syria has been threatening to become a proxy battleground for what some are calling the New Cold War for months," and the Russian airstrikes "may have tipped the balance," per an analysis at CNBC. It suggests that Putin might eventually "have to compromise on his support" for Assad and work with the West, but that's still palatable for him "if Syria was brought back into ... the Russian sphere of influence, and if he could say with confidence that the IS threat had been lessened."
  • Who's doing the fighting: The New York Times has an explainer about the convoluted agendas in Syria, involving not just the US and Russia, but Saudi Arabia, Iran, France, Britain, and others.