Russian President Vladimir Putin has conscripted 150,000 new troops into the Russian military as the country unleashed a wave of airstrikes in Syria. Iran and Islamist group Hezbollah are also preparing for a major ground offensive in Syria.
Over the past ten days, hundreds of Iranian troops have arrived in Syria. They are backed by their Lebanese allies, Hezbollah, and rebel fighters from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Reports suggest that the Iranian troops on the ground in Syria are soldiers and officers. The Iranian troops are being supported by Russian warplanes that bombed the camps of rebel fighters trained by the CIA.
The White House called Russia’s airstrikes in Syria “indiscriminate,” and claimed that the country’s actions risk prolonging the conflict “indefinitely.”
A video released by War Documentary Films reportedly shows Russian aircraft conducting airstrikes with poor precision, even missing their intended targets.
The comments by the White House were made after Presidents Obama and Putin had discussions aimed at “de-conflicting” operations in the country.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for President Putin, claimed the decision to conscript the new troops was not related to the escalating conflict in the Middle East.
Peskov, who said Russia is targeting ISIS and other extremist groups, told Sputnik News that the decree is something that President Putin signs twice a year.
After two days of aerial attacks, Moscow claims to have destroyed 12 ISIS targets. The targets include a command center and an ammunitions depot.
However, the areas targeted by the Russians are not controlled by ISIS as claimed, but are mostly controlled by rebel insurgents that are supported by the U.S.
According to a Syrian security source, bombs were dropped on a coalition of Islamist rebels including Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch, the so-called Army of Conquest, which fiercely opposes ISIS.
The leader of Liwa Suqour al-Jabal, another rebel group that is part of the Free Syrian Army, said their Idlib base was struck by 20 missiles in two separate airstrikes.
His fighters were trained by the CIA as part of a program Washington said was aimed at supporting groups that oppose ISIS and President Assad.
The Daily Mail reports that Riyad Hadded, Syria’s ambassador to Moscow, claimed the strikes were carried out exclusively against the positions of ISIS.
Hadded said, “The positions of Al Qaeda are positions of ISIS. Carrying out strikes against these positions is natural and logical, they are dictated by the fact that these strikes are also aimed at other terrorist groups that support ISIS.”
Russia has admitted that the list of bombing targets was drawn up by the Syrian Defense Ministry, but it also used its military satellites to obtain “intelligence” to pinpoint the targets.
Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has challenged the United States to prove that Russia’s operation was not targeting terrorists.