A French diplomat has accused Russia of lying about the target of air strikes carried out in Syria on Wednesday.
The Russian Defence Ministry claims it has started a bombing campaign against “Islamic State terrorist dens” in cooperation with the Syrian air force.
However a French diplomatic source claims the Russians have attacked Syrian opposition targets rather than IS strongholds.
Moscow says its air force is destroying IS targets including military equipment, communication facilities, arms and ammunition depots.
Dramatic footage has appeared online, claiming to be from the aftermath of bombings of Tajamu Ala’azza- rebel-held areas in north eastern Homs province
A defence ministry spokesman told a Russian news agency: “In accordance with the decision of the Armed Forces Supreme Commander of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, Russian air forces today began pinpoint strikes against ISIS (IS) targets on the ground on the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic,”
Putin told a government meeting on Wednesday that all of Russia’s “partners” had been informed about Moscow’s decision to launch air strikes.
Putin has been building up a military presence in Syria as a sign of support for President Bashar al-Assad, whose country has been torn apart by rebel forces including IS.
Putin said Wednesday’s action did not mean that Russian ground forces would be engaged in conflict and that the move referred to the use of the air force only.
“If there will be a united coalition which I doubt, or in the end two coalitions – one American and one Russian – they will have to coordinate their actions,” Ivan Konovalov, a military expert, said.