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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Russia pounding non-ISIL targets in Syria: US

Iran Press TV

Thu Oct 8, 2015 3:37PM

Washington has accused Moscow of not striking the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group and focusing their attacks on US-backed militants who seek to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"Greater than 90 percent of the strikes that we've seen them take to date have not been against ISIL or al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists," US State Department spokesman John Kirby claimed on Wednesday.

"They've been largely against opposition groups that want a better future for Syria and don't want to see the Assad regime stay in power," the official added.

This is the first time since the onset of Russia's military operation against Daesh and other terrorist groups in Syria that an American official has offered specific figures about the impact of Moscow's airstrikes.

Russian warplanes have been pounding ISIL positions in western and northern Syria since September 30.

'Russia at great risk'

The US State Department official also warned that Russia's move is a "mistake" that will put Moscow at risk.

"We believe [it is] a mistake for Russia, because not only are they going to be exacerbating sectarian tensions there in Syria, but they're potentially exacerbating sectarian tensions in Russia itself," Kirby noted.

"They're putting themselves at greater risk," he maintained.

Kirby's remarks followed those of US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who has condemned Russia for striking Western-backed militants in Syria.

'I have said before that we believed that Russia has the wrong strategy -- they continue to hit targets that are not ISIL. We believe this is a fundamental mistake,' Carter claimed on Wednesday, using an acronym for the Daesh terrorist group.

Russia's response

In response to the allegations, Moscow dismissed them as "accuracy problems" on Washington's part and reminded the US of its own airstrikes against the terrorist group.

"The American and other air forces have been carrying out strikes for a year already, but we have grounds to believe that they have not always… been striking terrorist targets,' Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said on Wednesday.

The Defense Ministry also announced that Russian forces had struck 112 Takfiri targets in Syria since launching its military campaign in the Arab country on September 30.

Russian warships also began to launch missiles into Syria from the Caspian Sea on Wednesday, firing 26 cruise missiles against 11 militant targets.

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