Russia has conducted a total of 112 attacks against the ISIS since Sept. 30. On October 7, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to President Vladimir Putin 23 Russian attack aircraft continuing its strikes on significant ISIS positions. Four Russian warships launched 26 Kalibr cruise missiles against 11 targets from an impressive distance – the Caspian Sea’s waters, around 1,500 kilometers away from the target.
As for Russia’s next steps on Syria? “It will be synchronized with the Syrian army’s operations on the ground. Our Aerospace Forces will provide effective support for the Syrian army’s offensive,” Mr. Putin said in the video conference with Shoigu.
Shoigu added that from Sept. 30, Russia was able to engaged 19 command posts, 12 ammunition depots, 71 pieces of military hardware, and six explosives production workshops producing explosives for car bombs. Russia is continuing their operations according to plan, Shoigu said.
Mr. Putin also shared his conversation with French president, Francois Hollande, during his call with Shoigu. He said Mr. Hollande is suggesting to President Bashar al-Assad for troops to join forces with the Free Syrian Army against the ISIS. Mr. Putin said the suggestion is “worth a try.” Mr. Putin has also instructed Shoigu to continue establishing communications with other participants in Syria, namely Saudi Arabia, Turkey, U.S., Iran and Iraq. Without their participation, war against the ISIS has little chance of being organized as it should, Mr. Putin said.
Mr. Putin stressed that it is important for Russia to communicate with these participating countries as they have been conducting operations in the territory for more than a year now. And since they claim to know the situation better, “let them share with us information on the targets they have identified over this time, and we will work them through,” Mr. Putin instructed Shoigu.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter already has an answer to this. The Pentagon would not cooperate militarily with Russia in Syria, nor will it share any intelligence with them. They will only cooperate in as far as the safety of the pilots is concerned.
Turkey, on the other hand, has accused Russia of repeatedly violating its airspace. NATO believes that the invasions were deliberate and “extremely dangerous,” Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, intelligence sources revealed that Russian aircraft have intercepted U.S. drones on at least three separate occasions in Syria – in Raqqa, long the Turkish-Syrian border and Aleppo. “The first time it happened, we thought the Russians got lucky. Then it happened two more times,” an official revealed to Fox News. The Russian aircrafts did not attempt to shootdown the U.S. drones but intentionally flew close enough to make their presence known according to another official.
A senior military official, who has spoken on condition of anonymity, maintained that most of the strikes conducted by Russia are aimed at Syrian opposition forces and not against the ISIS. Another official said Russia had carried out only half or at best a quarter of the strikes that the Russian Ministry of Defense claims to have conducted.