Russian airstrikes in Syria were like “pouring gasoline on the fire,” U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told reporters Wednesday during a live TV broadcast on CNN before adding that Moscow had adopted a “contradictory position” in its supposed strikes against the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, that took place earlier in the day. Russia’s rhetoric about helping eliminate ISIS meant little while it continued to prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad’s authoritarian regime, Carter said.
His comments came just hours after it was confirmed that Russia had begun bombing raids in Syria, while U.S. officials have since claimed that the strikes fell in an area that ISIS had not occupied.
“It does appear that they were in areas where there probably were not ISIL forces, and that is precisely one of the problems with this whole approach,” Carter said, referring to the terror group by the name the U.S. government uses to describe it.
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) September 30, 2015
The Russian parliament authorized the military strikes in Moscow just hours before they were slated to take place. However, the Kremlin-commanded forces had been operating in Syria for at least three weeks prior after they shipped and flew heavy military equipment into the country to assist Assad’s forces in their fight against ISIS and other rebel groups.
While images of supposedly injured civilians from the Russian strikes have been broadcast live by U.S. TV stations, Moscow-influenced press has continued to claim that the strikes did hit ISIS targets. It was not immediately known what Russia’s actual intent was.
Arizona Sen. John McCain addressed Congress just hours after the strikes were announced, claiming that the “true intentions” of Vladimir Putin had been revealed and that it was U.S. President Barack Obama’s fault for his inaction on Syria, according to a Politico report. “Into the wreckage of this administration’s Middle East policy has now stepped Vladimir Putin. He perceives the administration’s inaction and caution as weakness and is taking full advantage.”