WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2015 — Russian airstrikes hit targets in Homs and Qunaitra provinces in Syria today in an escalation of the Syrian conflict to new highly charged international levels. At least some of the targets were anti-Assad opposition forces in areas where no ISIS or Al Nusra forces were located, according to U.S. .Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.
Alarm bells were raised around the world as Sen. John McCain took to the Senate floor in comments broadcast by all three cable news outlets to denounce both the Russian actions and six years of feckless American foreign policy.
McCain repeatedly invoked President Obama’s lack of policy as the root cause of the current, and growing, chaos throughout the Middle East and in Syria specifically.
American officials seemed to be taken by surprise by the swift engagement of Russian forces so soon after President Putin’s one-day media blitz at the United Nations.
In a speech to the General Assembly and a lengthy interview on both “60 Minutes” and “Charlie Rose,” Putin laid out an assertive commitment to actively and aggressively pursuing Russian interests in Ukraine, Syria and around the world.
McCain reported that 26 died, including six children, in the Russian airstrikes. The airstrikes mark the first time Russia has used warplanes in the conflict.
American officials assert that the increased Russian involvement is a sign of Assad’s weakness.
Critics counter that levels of brutality have not stopped Russia from supporting the Assad regime over 60 years.
American officials were informed of the strikes by a Russian general about an hour before they occurred. The general warned the Pentagon not to interfere in “Russian airspace.”