The Russian government sent out airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday, Sept. 30 that have caused many to question the intended target. Though the Russian government insists it is targeting the Islamic State group members with the airstrikes, many believe that the airstrikes were intended to help Russian ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to Politico.
Syria is currently engaged in a civil war between the current governmental regime uner Bashar al-Assad and his opposition that has caused violence and fear, leading Syrians to flee their homes for other countries.
Assad’s opposition grew because of his use of force and brutality against the Syrian people. Tired, fearful and wanting a change, some Syrians revolted and formed groups of opposition that are trying to force Assad out of power. Meanwhile, the Islamic State group has taken advantage of the political turmoil and staked claim in certain areas of Syria.
The Russian government claims it was targeting members of the Islamic State group, but some claim they were actually targeting members of the opposition to government. Defense Secretary Ash Carter claims that based on the geographical area of Russia’s airstrikes, it seems likely that the intended targets were not members of the Islamic State group, but rather members of opposition forces, according to Politico.
Although the Russian government supports the Syrian president and supports his position in power, Russian President Vladimir Putin maintains that the airstrike targets were indeed aimed at members of the radical Islamic State. In fact, Col. Gen. Kartapolov stated that because the airstrikes were working and impacting the Islamic State group members, Russia plans to intensify the airstrikes, according to BBC News.
Also, in an address to the United Nations on Thursday, Oct. 1, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov argued, “I would recall that we always were saying that we are going to fight [the Islamic State group] and other terrorist groups. This is the same position which the Americans are taking,” according to The Washington Post.
He denied that the Russian government was attempting to gain support for Assad. He also reinforced the idea that the airstrike targets are terrorist organizations, the same as the U.S. and other western countries. Lavrov argued that the main goal, as well as the main goal for the West, is to take out the terrorists with airstrikes.
The concern for many now is making sure American and Russian wires do not get crossed creating a situation where the two tentative allies accidently attack each other. Because the Russian government only gave the American government an hour warning before the first strike on Wednesday, Sept. 30, tension between the two countries is palpable, according to Politico.
While many countries want to find a way to take down members of the Islamic State group, the West has condemned Russia’s efforts based on the unknown true targets, and civilian casualties. Despite worldwide criticism, the Russian government continues to send air strikes into Syria. Though only Putin knows the true targets, the effects will be felt not only by the Syrian people, but on a global scale.
Editor’s Note: Information from Politico, BBC News and The Washington Post was used in this report.