Russia says warplanes hit Islamic State and coordinated with U.S.

Published 9:09 am Thursday, October 1, 2015

PARIS — Russia today insisted its warplanes in Syria were hitting at the same extremists targeted by the United States and contradicted American criticism that its military failed to coordinate the airstrikes, describing the allegations as a “war of disinformation.”

Alexander Orlov, the Russian ambassador to France, said Moscow’s intervention came only after a year of airstrikes by the U.S. and its partners failed to dislodge Islamic State extremists, and predicted that Syria could be ready for “free elections” within a year. Russia’s military said it carried out 20 airstrikes Wednesday.

The Russian Defense Ministry said its warplanes on Wednesday targeted and destroyed eight positions belonging to extremists from the IS group, also known as ISIL or ISIS, in what President Vladimir Putin called a pre-emptive strike against the militants.

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The ministry gave no specific locations, but Orlov said the targets were installations for Islamic State and the Nusra Front, al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria — “two terrorist organizations recognized as such.” Orlov told France Info radio the planes were acting as air support for Syrian ground troops.

The U.S. and Russia agree on the need to fight the Islamic State but not about what to do with President Bashar Assad. The Syrian civil war, which grew out of an uprising against Assad, has killed more than 250,000 people since March 2011 and sent millions of refugees fleeing to other countries in the Middle East and Europe.