Friday, October 2, 2015

West talks, Putin bombs (the U.S. trained fighters and allegedly, civilians) and continues his "special operations". "What has gone wrong?"

West talks, Putin bombs (the U.S. trained fighters and allegedly, civilians) and continues his "special operations".

"This is not an idle gambit: it is the first time Russia has launched a major military action outside what you might call the old Soviet empire since the end of the Cold War. Yesterday, the aggression in the air was underscored by the news that Putin has signed a decree to conscript 150,000 men into his army."

Little noticed were the recently proposed changes to the Russian criminal code, which turned the "minor criminal offences" such as assault, small theft and fraud into the "administrative" ones, under the pretense of "humanitarian" reform of penitentiary system. This will allow, just as in good old Soviet times, to conscript the young criminals into the military service instead of imprisoning them and to solve the Russian military's manpower problem (with the potential new pool of 300,000 men) . What the nice new soldiers they will get, which is completely consistent with the logic of Putin's ("who is essentially a gangster") criminal regime, its spirit and mindset as a criminal enterprise and "mafia state" under the mask of the state structures. 

Putin needs his criminal soldiers to carry out his criminal tasks. Under the pretense of "fighting ISIS" he fights the U.S. and the West to whom he and his cohorts experience the deep as the ocean, irrational, animalistic, immutable and incorrigible hatred. And do not have any illusions about it. Any "peace and cooperation" overtures coming from him are in fact the disguised declarations of war, with the skillful deceit as a potent and "valuable" weapon. It happened in Ukraine, it is happening in Syria and it will happen again anywhere. Simply, this is his way and his modus operandi, and he does not know any others. 

"What has gone wrong?
...
The first answer is that leadership and coherent policy-making have been shamefully absent. The shadow of the Bush-Blair disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan hangs heavy over the White House.
President Obama seems content to spend his last two years of office playing golf. In an extraordinary fashion, given his intelligence and rhetorical powers, he has renounced the traditional role of U.S. presidents, acknowledged leaders of the free world. His administration will go down in history as a tragic disappointment."

To be fair, Putin was not the first one who employed this deceit strategy. Erdogan obtained the NATO blessing to fight ISIS (ostensibly) and used it (and still using it) as a pretext to bomb his own citizens, the Kurds, the most successful and dedicated anti-ISIS fighters and the most reliable Western allies. And the West swallowed it, with some half-hearted protestations, just like now it is swallowing the Putin's aggression. Turkey and Russia apparently share the same political cookbook which elevates the traditional and perverse Middle Eastern sultanistic hypocrisy to the level of statecraft. 

"Pushed to define "other terrorist groups," Lavrov said: "If it looks like a terrorist, if it acts like a terrorist, if it walks like a terrorist, if it fights like a terrorist, it's a terrorist, right?""
I wonder if he would be able to distinguish a duck from a rooster or "terrorists" from civilians and children, for that matter, from the height of a bomber cockpit. Apparently, "dumb bombs", just like some diplomats, are not concerned about these "subtleties".

Coordination is the key, good faith is the precision guidance system. Unless they are clearly present, Russian involvement in Syria will be seen as a trick and a trap and justifiably so. 
The Russian saying goes: "Do not dig a hole for the other, you will get into it yourself". 

Will Putin fall into his own trap? This remains to be seen and depends on the "road map" in progress.
_________________________________


Headlines - 10:32 AM 10/2/2015 


Russia accused of striking civilian targets in Syria

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Russian warplanes unleashed a new wave of air strikes against opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, amid concerns that many of Moscow's targets were civilian.
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Paris on Friday to discuss the air raids with his counterpart Francois Hollande, as Moscow maintained that the attacks were aimed at the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and other "terrorist organisations".
France is a member of the US-led coalition against ISIL in Syria and Iraq. On Thursday, the countries of the coalition called on Russia to cease its aerial campaign which they said was hitting the Western-backed Syrian rebels and civilians.
"These military actions constitute a further escalation and will only fuel more extremism and radicalisation," said the coalition, which also includes Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Canada.
Russian jets on Thursday hit areas in the suburbs of Hama and Idlib, all areas under the control of loose coalitions of rebel groups, including the Western-backed Free Syrian Army.
Activists on the ground told Al Jazeera that the majority of the attacks hit civilian targets, a claim that Moscow, a key ally of Assad, denies.
In the Hama suburb of Habeet, an air strike at about 08:30pm local time killed three civilians, including a 5-year-old girl, and injured 12 others, according to opposition activist Hadi al-Abdullah.
"The destruction caused by the strike was massive. A two-storey house was completely flattened to the ground," he told Al Jazeera.
Earlier at 02:30pm local time, an attack on Jisr al-Shoghour in the northwestern province of Idlib destroyed a mosque and killed two civilians, other activists told Al Jazeera.
In Idlib's Jabal al-Zawya region, two children were among at least seven civilians killed in suspected Russian air strikes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The UK-based monitoring group said Russian air strikes on Syria have killed 28 people since they were launched on Wednesday.
'Information warfare'
Putin rejected allegations that civilians had been killed in Russian raids, dubbing the reports "information warfare".
Russia's defence ministry said the air raids were hitting several ISIL targets, including in the group's self-proclaimed capital, Raqqa.
Russia rejects criticism of air strikes in Syria
Both Western officials and activists on the ground said expressed concern that they are attempting to hit opposition rebel fighters.
Both Idlib and Hama have no ISIL presence since January 2014.
The initial Russian strikes on Wednesday hit Talbiseh, a suburb in the central Homs suburb that is under the control of the Free Syrian Army, Ahrar al-Sham rebel group and Faylaq al-Sham group, and the al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra.
The rebel groups had pushed back ISIL from the suburb six months ago.
The air strikes came as Russia presented a draft resolution to the UN Security Council that would call for consent from Damascus for attacks against ISIL in Syria.
Washington had previously blocked a similar resolution, and no date has been set for a vote on this one.
The Syrian conflict, which began as protests against Assad's regime in 2011, has escalated into a multi-faceted war that has drawn thousands of fighters from overseas.
Over the past four years, more than 250,000 people have been killed and half of the population displaced.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies
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News Roundup and Notes: October 2, 2015 

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Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.
IRAQ and SYRIA
Russia conducted a new wave of airstrikes overnight in northwestern and western Syria, a Syrian source said. Despite claims to the contrary, many of the strikes took place in areas where the Islamic State has little or no presence. [Reuters]
The camp of a Syrian opposition group trained by the CIA in northern Idlib province was reportedly one of the targets hit by Russian airstrikes. Moscow has admitted to targeting groups other than ISIS in Syria. [The Guardian’s Kareem Shaheen et al] The US has admitted that there is little it can do to stop Russia targeting rebels the CIA has trained. [The Daily Beast’s Nancy A. Youssef et al]
The majority of Russia’s attacks on Hama and Idlib hit civilian targets, according to activists on the ground. Moscow denies this. [Al Jazeera]
Russia has estimated that its aerial campaign in Syria will last three to four months and strikes will intensify, according to the head of the lower house of the Russian parliament’s foreign affairs committee. [Reuters]
Members of the US-led coalition against ISIS urged Russia to halt air strikes in a joint statement released today, saying that Moscow’s involvement would “only fuel more extremism.” [BBC]
Defense officials from the US and Russia held a one-hour video conference yesterday, during which there was little agreement on the nature of Russian targets in Syria. [Washington Post’s Karen DeYoung]
Hundreds of Iranian service members have joined a major offensive in support of the Assad regime in Syria, Lebanese sources reported yesterday. [Reuters’ Laila Bassam and Andrew Osborn]
The Economist argues that both “Kunduz and Russia’s bombing are symptoms of the same phenomenon: the vacuum created by Barack Obama’s attempt to stand back from the wars of the Muslim world.”
What is Putin hoping to achieve in Syria? Some of “America’s best-informed Kremlinologists” consider the various angles to the situation, at Politico Magazine.
“[H]istory suggests that it will be hard for Russia to bring about a purely military resolution,” write Anne Bernard and Neil MacFarquhar, adding that in order for Moscow to restore Assad to full control in Syria, “Russia will have to accomplish what no other outside power has dared attempt.” [New York Times] 
“ISIS is not invincible.” Max Boot and Michael Pregent suggest how President Obama could “salvage his hapless ISIS strategy,” at the Wall Street Journal.
AFGHANISTAN 
A US cargo plane crashed while taking off from an airfield in eastern Afghanistan early today local time, leaving at least 11 people dead including six US service members. [AP] The Pentagon said the incident is under investigation. [New York Times]
The Taliban has today claimed that it shot down the C-130 military transport plane, though this could not be confirmed. The insurgent group are known for making exaggerated battlefield claims. [AFP]
Taliban insurgents were holding out in Kunduz against Afghan security forces today, after the country’s military recaptured most of the city from the group yesterday. [Reuters]
The Taliban is expanding its offensive to other northern provinces following the loss of Kunduz from Afghan and NATO troops; Al Jazeera reports that the insurgents had captured at least one district in each of three provinces.
“Afghanistan is on a regressive path,” opines Ershad Ahmadi, proposing a number of steps which the national unity government could take to “correct the course.” [New York Times] 
ISRAEL and PALESTINE 
An Israeli couple were shot dead by Palestinians in the West Bank yesterday while driving with their four children, Israeli sources say. [Wall Street Journal’s Rory Jones and Nancy Shekter-Porat] Their deaths are “the latest incident in a relatively long period of escalation” for which there appears to be no quick solution, suggests Amos Harel. [Haaretz] 
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s UN address attacked the nuclear accord with Iran, saying that Israel would never allow Iran “to break in, to sneak in, or to walk into the nuclear weapons club.” [Reuters] 
The New York Times editorial board says of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s UN address that “bombshell or not, it is not a speech to be lightly dismissed.” 
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
Russian, Ukrainian, French and German leaders will meet in Paris to discuss how to bring about peace to eastern Ukraine today, a “long-awaited summit” now overshadowed my Moscow’s military intervention in Syria. [AP] 
Comments by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy that the House Benghazi Committee was an effort to negatively impact Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers may constitute a “watershed” moment for the committee according to Clinton’s campaign team. [The Hill’s Amie Parnes] And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has threatened to halt Democratic participation in the committee in the wake of McCarthy’s comments. [The Hill’s Mike Lillis]
The leader of a recent coup in Burkina Faso has been taken into custody by the country’s security forces, sources report. [BBC]
The UN General Assembly began a two-day debate yesterday to reflect upon peace and security efforts and to take stock of current challenges facing the international community, as part of the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the UN. [UN News Centre]
OPM has begun sending out notification letters to the 21.5 million individuals whose information was stolen during the security breach. The letter will indicate whether a person was one of the 5.6 million who had their fingerprint data compromised. [The Hill’s Katie Bo Williams]
Lawmakers from both sides “appear to share an extreme reluctance” to openly criticize human rights violations committed by Saudi Arabia, suggests Lee Fang at The Intercept.
Spam messages received on Hillary Clinton’s private email server were mostly deleted at her direction, making it “virtually impossible” for anyone but the FBI to establish how many virus-bearing messages were received on it. [Politico’s Josh Gerstein and Joseph Marks]
Read on Just Security »
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UK newspapers rage against Putin - but offer no coherent solutions 

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Editorials on Russia’s Syrian intervention also attack Obama and Cameron
Vladimir Putin’s intervention in Syria is widely viewed as a way of bolstering the position of Bashar al-Assad rather than a commitment to defeating Isis. 
That reality complicates matters for David Cameron, who was hoping to secure a Commons vote in favour of the UK launching airstrikes inside Syria, reported the Guardian.
“There will be some in the world who will look at what Vladimir Putin is doing and admire him for taking such uncompromising action.
Of course, that is exactly what Mr Putin is hoping for. He wants to draw attention away from the violent gamble he took in Ukraine and from a domestic economy left fragile by Western sanctions.
“Moscow is intervening to shore up Assad’s dictatorship and thwart the United States. It is a grave indictment of the vacillation of the Obama administration that Russian power is being wielded wantonly and with potentially disastrous consequences for Syria’s people and for the wider struggle against Islamist extremism.”
“As the horror of this beautiful nation unfolds, we are seeing the moral and military exhaustion of the west laid bare. That is yet another regrettable result of the Iraq War this paper so strongly opposed - and a betrayal of the Syrian people.”
“Is it any wonder Russia no longer treats us seriously? This paper concedes there are no easy solutions, but has sympathy with those who argue that an accommodation must be reached with Putin - and by extension the murderous Assad - if any sort of peace is to be achieved in Syria and the millions of displaced refugees allowed home.”
“Should British voters ever be so unhinged as to elect him prime minister, his defence policy would amount to turning off the lights and hoping no one noticed us.
The sheer lunacy of Corbyn’s position is summed up by his claim that 187 other countries do not feel the need to have nuclear weapons, so why should the UK?
Continue reading...

Кадыров просит отправить подразделения Чечни в Сирию для борьбы с ИГ - РИА Новости

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РИА Новости



Кадыров просит отправить подразделения Чечни в Сирию для борьбы с ИГ
РИА Новости
Глава Чеченской Республики Рамзан Кадыров отметил высокую боеготовность чеченских военных и заявил, что его сограждане готовы всю жизнь бороться против террористов, где бы они ни находились. Глава Чеченской Республики Рамзан Кадыров вовремя проверки боеготовности ...
Кадыров просит отправить в Сирию чеченскую пехотуГазета.Ru
Кадыров сообщил о задержании вербовщиков «Исламского государства» в ЧечнеРБК
«Высокоточные удары» по ВВС РФ в Сирии и гибель мирных жителейРадиостанция ЭХО МОСКВЫ
Forbes Россия -Российская Газета -Информационное агентство России ТАСС
Все похожие статьи: 133 »

Putin dismisses reports of Syrian civilian deaths – video

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The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, says no Syrian civilians were killed due to Russian airstrikes. Speaking on Thursday, Putin says reports of non-combatant fatalities came before Russian warplanes were in the air and blames the media for circulating false information. Putin reiterates that Russia is targeting terrorists
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U.S., Allies Demand Russia Stop Attacks on Syria Opposition - Bloomberg

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U.S., Allies Demand Russia Stop Attacks on Syria Opposition
Bloomberg
The U.S. and six other nations backing rebels fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad called on Russia to cease attacks against the country's opposition, saying air strikes that have killed civilians risk fueling extremism. The U.S., the U.K ...

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Putin, Hollande to Discuss Syria Amid Tensions Over Airstrikes

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to meet in Paris Friday with French President Francois Hollande to discuss the conflict in Syria, amid rising tensions over what the U.S. says are "indiscriminate" Russian airstrikes in the war-torn Middle Eastern country. Russia, which began its air campaign Wednesday, has said it targeting Islamic State militants, but the United States accuses Russia of using the campaign to back the government of Bashar al-Assad. On Thursday, Russian jets hit IS targets but, according to observers, they also bombed fighters backed by the U.S.  The Kremlin has acknowledged it was taking aim at "a list" of groups beyond the extremist group. "These organizations are well-known and the targets are chosen in coordination with the armed forces of Syria," spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday. The White House was critical of the strikes. “The fact is that carrying out indiscriminate military operations against the Syrian opposition is dangerous for Russia,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday.  Earnest also said that what he called Russia’s “indiscriminate” strikes would drive moderate elements of the Syrian opposition toward extremism, and ultimately exacerbate extremism inside Russia. Coalition calls for focus on IS A statement issued Friday by Turkey and its allies in the U.S.-led coalition has called on Russia to stop any attacks on the opposition and focus on targeting IS.  The coalition has been hitting IS targets for about a year. The Pentagon says U.S. and Russian militaries will hold another teleconference in the coming days on ways they can avoid firing on each other in Syria. Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said an hour-long conversation between the two sides Thursday was cordial. He said the Russian side made clear that strikes in Syria would continue, while the American representative "noted U.S. concerns that areas targeted so far are not ISIL [Islamic State] strongholds. Iranian ground troops White House spokesman Earnest said he could not confirm reports that Iranian troops were on the ground in Syria and preparing for a ground offensive, but he said that if the reports were true, they would be an “apt and powerful” illustration of how Russia’s military operations have worsened the conflict. Hundreds of Iranian troops newly arrived in Syria will join in a major ground operation with Assad's government forces and Lebanese Hezbollah allies, two Lebanese sources told Reuters. To date, Iran primarily has provided military advisers in the conflict. At a Pentagon news conference Thursday, spokesman Colonel Steve Warren did not confirm reports that Iranian troops had crossed into Syria. But, he said, "it’s no surprise to us that the Iranians are present." Iran's Foreign Ministry on Thursday endorsed Russia's airstrikes.

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US, allies publish statement on Russia's actions in Syria - USA TODAY

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USA TODAY



US, allies publish statement on Russia's actions in Syria
USA TODAY
A joint statement released by Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States expressed concern over Russia's military actions in Syria and said it will “only fuel more extremism and radicalization.” The statement was ...
US-backed Syrian rebels say they have been hit by Russian airstrikesThe Guardian
Insult to our intelligence: New information war against RussiaRT
Air Force senior intelligence officer: Russia is using “dumb bombs” in its ...Washington Post
Politico -The Independent -Sputnik International
all 266 news articles »

Putin in Paris for talks as Russia carries out further Syria airstrikes

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Russia’s airstrikes, which western critics say target anti-Assad groups, likely to dominate meeting with Hollande and Merkel
Vladimir Putin is coming face to face with western leaders for the first time since Moscow launched airstrikes in Syria amid a growing rift over
whom it is targeting.
The Russian president is in Paris for a peace summit on the Ukraine conflict, but Russia’s sudden intervention in Syria looks set to dominate as he holds talks with France’s François Hollande and Germany’s Angela Merkel.
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European Leaders to Discuss Ukraine as Russia Flexes Muscle in Syria 

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The summit meeting, aimed at bolstering the peace process in the east Ukraine, will most likely be overshadowed by Russia’s airstrikes.









Russian Airstrikes in Syria Hit Targets in ISIS-Controlled Area

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The United States and other nations that back groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad had accused Moscow of targeting almost every opposition group but the Islamic State.

Russia’s Dangerous Escalation in Syria

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Russia’s airstrikes in Syria cross a dangerous line in the Middle East that escalates the bloody conflict and risks bringing Russia into direct confrontation with the United States. This move by President Vladimir Putin complicates an already chaotic battlefield and will certainly make a political settlement even harder to achieve.
Mr. Putin’s claim that the primary motivation for the bombing is to fight and destroy terrorists, including the Islamic State, is dubious. It is more likely that the Russian leader’s main objective is to rescue President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, whose hold on power has weakened as the Syrian Army has lost ground not only to the Islamic State, which is trying to establish a caliphate in Syria and Iraq, but also to a coalition of insurgent groups that is opposed to the Islamic State.
Syria is Russia’s chief ally in the Middle East, and Mr. Putin has enabled Mr. Assad throughout the conflict. Mr. Putin could have prevented the turn to violence back in 2011 by persuading his ally not to attack peaceful antigovernment protesters.
Whether Russia will try to help Mr. Assad reclaim control over the entire country is unclear, but some American officials suspect the plans go beyond what Mr. Putin said on Wednesday would be “limited”airstrikes. In recent weeks, the Russians have poured tanks, aircraft and other heavy weapons into Syria. It makes sense to assume the worst, given Mr. Putin’s behavior in Ukraine, where he initially denied moving weapons and troops into the country, then annexed Crimea and continues to destabilize the eastern region.
President Obama appears to have been caught off guard by the bold move to reassert Russian influence in the Middle East, as Mr. Putin no doubt intended. Despite American-led airstrikes, the administration has no real strategy for Syria. There is no obvious Russian strategy either, except for bolstering Mr. Assad, whom Mr. Putin considers the key to stability but most of his brutalized citizens detest.
Mr. Putin may have the initiative now, but the risks for Russia, whose economy is suffering from Ukraine-related sanctions and falling oil prices, are real. Before launching the operation, the Russians did not try to work out a plan with the Americans to ensure their respective warplanes would not come in contact.
Military experts say that the Russian planes are old and could crash and that Russian weapons may not be precise enough to avoid extensive civilian casualties. Mr. Putin has legitimate concerns about foreign fighters returning home to Russia from Syria, but his new military operation could backfire and make Russia an even greater target of extremists.
The Americans rightly rejected a Russian warning after the airstrikes started to avoid Syrian airspace and halt their attacks on the Islamic State. Mr. Obama will have to work with America’s partners on a unified response to Russia’s moves and seek a way to end the war.
On Wednesday, Mr. Putin said he hoped that after the Russian intervention Mr. Assad would be open to compromise. But with Russia willing to intervene directly on his behalf, Mr. Assad may conclude he can stay in power indefinitely.
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Russia Endangering Itself With Syrian Airstrikes

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The White House said Thursday that Russia had “further isolated itself” by carrying out airstrikes in Syria and was putting itself in jeopardy.
“The fact is that carrying out indiscriminate military operations against the Syrian opposition is dangerous for Russia,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.
He said Russian interference would prolong the sectarian conflict inside Syria. “It also risks Russia being drawn even more deeply into that conflict,” he said, pointing out that Russia already had acknowledged there could be no military solution in Syria.
Earnest also said that what he called Russia’s “indiscriminate” strikes would drive moderate elements of the Syrian opposition toward extremism, and ultimately exacerbate extremism inside Russia.
Russia's actions in Syria have not led to a "broad re-evaluation" of the U.S. strategy there, Earnest said.
Shift by U.S.?
But Syrian expert Joshua Landis told VOA's Persian service that the Obama administration might actually be climbing down from its strict rejection of working with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russia in trying to root out Islamic State.
"It’s not very clear how far it can go in this process," said Landis, an associate professor in the School of International and Area Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He said Washington has been trying to balance two separate interests. "On one hand, it insists on the values of human rights, democracy and getting rid of dictators ... but on the other hand there is this interest of rooting out ISIS from Syria," and for that the U.S. may need to work with the Russians and Assad.
The Pentagon said the U.S. and Russian militaries would hold another teleconference in the coming days on ways they can avoid firing on each other, as both wage air campaigns in Syria.
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said an hourlong conversation between the two sides Thursday was cordial. He said the Russian side made clear that strikes in Syria would continue, while the American representative "noted U.S. concerns that areas targeted so far are not ISIL [Islamic State] strongholds."
The officials' conversation came amid signs that Russia may be preparing to expand its air operations to neighboring Iraq.
A senior Russian diplomat said his country would consider airstrikes in Iraq if Baghdad asked, though Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov indicated otherwise.
"We are not planning to expand our airstrikes to Iraq," Lavrov said at a Thursday news conference at the United Nations in New York. "We were not invited. We were not asked. We are polite people; we don’t come unless invited."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov addresses the media during the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations in Manhattan, New York, Oct. 1, 2015.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov addresses the media during the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations in Manhattan, New York, Oct. 1, 2015.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he would welcome Russian aid in defeating the Islamic State. He told France 24 television earlier in the day that if Russia offered air support, "we will consider it and I would welcome it," Reuters reported.
In its fight with the Islamic State, Iraq's government primarily has been supported by the U.S.-led coalition. To date, it has provided $2.3 billion in equipment and air support. Its current ground force of 5,451 includes 3,359 Americans, a Pentagon spokesman said Thursday.
Iranian ground troops
Earnest said the White House could not confirm reports that Iranian troops were on the ground in Syria and preparing for a ground offensive, but he said that if the reports were true, they would be an “apt and powerful” illustration of how Russia’s military operations have worsened the conflict.
Hundreds of Iranian troops newly arrived in Syria will join in a major ground operation with Assad's government forces and Lebanese Hezbollah allies, two Lebanese sources told Reuters.
To date, Iran primarily has provided military advisers in the conflict.
At a Pentagon news conference Thursday, spokesman Colonel Steve Warren did not confirm reports that Iranian troops had crossed into Syria. But, he said, "it’s no surprise to us that the Iranians are present." Iran's Foreign Ministry on Thursday endorsed Russia's airstrikes.
Broader target list
Russian jets staged a second day of airstrikes in Syria on Thursday, targeting not only Islamic State extremists but also fighters backed by the United States, some observers charged.
Russian aircraft hit a dozen IS targets, including a command center and two ammunition depots, Defense Minister Igor Konashenkov said in a televised report.
The Kremlin acknowledged it also was taking aim at "a list" of groups beyond the extremist group.
"These organizations are well-known and the targets are chosen in coordination with the armed forces of Syria," spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday.
This image taken in Sept. 30, 2015 posted on the Twitter account of Syria Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, a volunteer search and rescue group, shows the aftermath of an airstrike in Talbiseh, Syria.
This image taken in Sept. 30, 2015 posted on the Twitter account of Syria Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, a volunteer search and rescue group, shows the aftermath of an airstrike in Talbiseh, Syria.
His words contradicted a statement Wednesday by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s chief of staff that raids were solely meant to aid Syria’s government in fighting the Islamic State group.
Russian Military Video: Syrian Airstrikes
Russian Military Video: Syrian Airstrikes
Russian Military Video: Syrian Airstrikes
Airstrikes on Thursday pounded areas where the U.S.-backed rebel group Tajamu Alezzah is operating, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
U.S. Senator John McCain, who heads the Senate's Armed Services Committee, said he had proof that Russian warplanes had attacked U.S.-trained fighters.
"Their initial strikes were against the individuals and the groups that have been funded and trained by our CIA," McCain said Thursday on CNN.
He accused Moscow of trying to prop up its ally Assad, whom the United States and other Western countries want out of office.

Dangerous new dimension
With American and allied airstrikes daily, and now Russian warplanes in the Syrian airspace, the war is taking on a dangerous new dimension.
Alexander Orlov, the Russian ambassador to France, said Russian officials warned the Americans “via confidential channels” of where they planned to strike. He also noted a coordination center was being set up in Baghdad that would include Syrians, Iraqis, Iranians and Russians — and any other country that wants to participate.
Smoke billows from buildings in the central Syrian town of Talbisseh in Homs province. Russian warplanes carried out airstrikes in three Syrian provinces, including Homs, along with regime aircraft, according to a Syrian security source, Sept. 30, 2015.
Smoke billows from buildings in the central Syrian town of Talbisseh in Homs province. Russian warplanes carried out airstrikes in three Syrian provinces, including Homs, along with regime aircraft, according to a Syrian security source, Sept. 30, 2015.
Khaled Khoja, head of the Syrian National Council opposition group, said at the U.N. that Russian airstrikes in four areas, including Talbiseh, killed 36 civilians, with five children among the dead.
The claim could not be independently verified. At a Thursday news conference, a Pentagon spokesman said he had no information.
Putin denied reports of any civilian deaths in Russian airstrikes.
“We are ready for such information attacks. The first reports of civilian casualties came even before our jets took off,'' he said Thursday in a live broadcast from the Kremlin, according to the AP.
Russia began carrying out airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday, just hours after lawmakers gave Putin the permission to deploy Russian military forces there.
Russia’s decision to begin airstrikes in Syria in support of Assad’s regime "is tantamount to pouring gasoline on the fire" of that country’s four-year civil war, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said.
The conflict, rooted in a civilian uprising against Assad in March 2011, has claimed more than 250,000 lives and forced millions to flee — mostly elsewhere in the Middle East or to Europe.
Pamela Dockins at the State Department, Carla Babb at the Pentagon and Jeff Seldin contributed to this report. Some material for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.
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Mapping the Battle for Syria: Russia Continues Airstrikes on Rebel Areas - The New York Times

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Most of the Targets Have Been Far From ISIS Territory

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