Russia Is Firing on Syria From Ships Now, Too

Firepower supplements strikes from planes
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2015 2:27 PM CDT

(Newser) – In a demonstration of its new alliance with Syria, Russia says it launched 26 cruise missiles from warships in the Caspian Sea on Wednesday while also supporting the Syrian army's ground offensive with warplanes, the New York Times reports. According to the BBC, Russia claims those cruise missiles, which had to fly more than 900 miles over Iran and Iraq to reach Syria, destroyed 11 terrorist targets with no civilian casualties. An anonymous Syrian official tells the Times Russia's help has allowed the army to move "from defense to offense" in attempting to take back land from rebels. According to the BBC, Russia claims it's targeting "all terrorists" in Syria.

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However, that claim is coming under increased scrutiny, and Wednesday's bombings didn't help. "So what we've seen in initial airstrikes that Russia carried out beginning last week were primarily targeting places where [ISIS] wasn't ensconced, didn't exist, didn't have a presence, and frankly it was where moderate Syrian opposition forces are generally located," a US spokesperson tells CNN. Turkey claims only 3.5% of Russian airstrikes have targeted ISIS, and critics believe Russia is using ISIS as an excuse to keep the Assad regime in power. US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says Russia is "making a mistake" by backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against rebel forces, many of which are supported by the United States, the Times reports. (Read more Syria stories.)

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