The airstrikes targeted ISIS positions, vehicles and warehouses that Russia believes belong to the militants, ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Russian news agencies. Islamic State is also referred to as ISIS.
|A Russian SU 25 SM Ground Attach Aircraft during a Training Exercise in March 2015. Photo: National Post/Getty Images|
Putin said the Russian air force will be supporting the Syrian army in its offensive operations.
Russia is “not going to plunge into this conflict head-on,” Putin said, and Moscow will help Syrian President Bashar Assad’s army as long as their offensive operation lasts.
Putin also said he expects Assad to sit down and talk with the Syrian opposition about a political settlement.
Russian lawmakers voted unanimously Wednesday to allow Putin to order airstrikes in Syria, where Russia has deployed fighter jets and other weapons in recent weeks.
Putin had to request parliamentary approval for any use of Russian troops abroad, according to the constitution. The last time he did so was before Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March 2014.
The vote comes after Putin’s meeting Monday with President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, where the two discussed Russia’s recent military buildup in Syria. Speaking after his meeting with Obama, Putin kept the door open for airstrikes but ruled out ground action.
Putin and other officials have said Russia was providing weapons and training to Assad’s army to help it combat IS. Russian navy transport vessels have been shuttling back and forth for weeks to ferry troops, weapons and supplies to an air base near the Syrian coastal city of Latakia. IHS Jane’s, a leading defence research group, said last week that satellite images of the base showed 28 jets, including Su-30 multirole fighters, Su-25 ground attack jets, Su-24 bombers and possibly Ka-52 helicopter gunships.
The Islamic State group has captured large parts of both Syria and Iraq.
(This article was written by the Associated Press)