Russian warplanes have struck multiple suspected "Islamic State" targets in the past 24 hours. Moscow continues to rebuff criticism for its air campaign in Syria as activists claim civilian casualties.
Russia's military said Sunday it had bombed 10 "Islamic State" (IS) group targets in Syria over the past 24 hours and is expanding its aerial campaign that began last week.
"Over the past 24 hours SU-34, SU-24M and SU-25 jets made 20 sorties," the defense ministry said in a statement. "Ten infrastructure targets of ISIL bandit groups have been struck," it said, referring to IS. The statement added that the military would expand its bombing campaign.
The strikes had hit a terrorist training camp, including a suicide belt factory, the ministry said on its website. "As a result of our air strikes on Islamic State targets, we have managed to disrupt their control system, the terrorist organisation's supply lines, and also caused significant damage to the infrastructure used to prepare acts of terror," the ministry said.
Acvtivists claim civilian deaths
But Syrian activists say an airstrike in the central Homs province killed at least two children and a shepherd.
An activist media platform in the central town of Talbiseh told the Associated Press news agency that at least 10 air raids were carried out on the town and nearby areas Sunday. A video posted by the group showed panicked residents fleeing. Another Syria-based activist, who goes by the name Bebars al-Talawy, says at least 15 people were wounded.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin appears unfazed by criticism from many world leaders for coordinating its military intervention with Syria's military, and has pledged to continue its air campaign in Syria.
US President Barack Obama called Russia's dramatic intervention a "recipe for disaster" but pledged Washington would not be drawn into a proxy war. Obama said that Putin did not distinguish between the IS and the other Islamist rebels fighting against President Assad's rule. "From their perspective, they're all terrorists," he said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said Russia was aggravating the situation.
"They are backing the butcher Assad, which is a terrible mistake for them and for the world," Cameron told the BBC on Sunday. "It's going to make the region more unstable, it will lead to further radicalisation and increased terrorism. I would say to them 'change direction, join us in attacking (Islamic State)'."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country has equipped Syria's armed opposition with weapons and is hosting more than a million Syrian refugees, criticized Russia's apparent military support of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
"The steps Russia is taking and the bombing campaign in Syria is unacceptable in any way... Unfortunately, Russia is making a grave mistake," Erdogan told a news conference at Istanbul airport before leaving for a visit to France.
jar/rc (AP, Reuters, AFP)