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 Army of Islam declares war on Russia, - The New York Times

Syrian rebels say Russia is targeting them rather than ISIS.

"They are the most violent strikes," says a man filming the grim aftermath of what he asserts was a Russian air attack on the town of Talbiseh, in the Homs Province of Syria," The New York Times writes, Censor.NET reports referring to InoPressa. "This is the Russian criminal regime," the man adds, journalist Anne Barnard says.

"Russia's very first airstrikes in Syria appeared to target areas where the Islamic State has no known presence, including some that have symbolic resonance as strongholds of the early, locally based opposition that sprang up among army defectors," the author continues.

Many of Mr. Assad's opponents say: If Moscow had been determined to destabilize the situation in Syria, it would have been hard-pressed to think of a more electrifying and polarizing way.

Read more: Russia commits fresh airstrikes in Syria, - BBC

"Among the areas hit was the base of a group that had been supported and supplied by the United States and its allies," the medium notes citing group's leader Jamil Saleh. He said the group's base had been hit severely in Hama Province, wounding eight of his men. "Later on Wednesday, American officials confirmed that some groups supported by the United States had been hit," the journalist says.

"We are on the front lines with Bashar al-Assad's army. We are moderate Syrian rebels and have no affiliation with ISIS. ISIS is at least 100 kilometers away from where we are," Mr. Saleh said.

As the medium reports, the group posted a video that it said showed the attack, first with two Russian fighter jets wheeling overhead, then with a blast so close and powerful that it knocked the camera to the ground.

See more: More than 60 civilians killed in Russia's air strikes in Syria, - German journalist. PHOTOS+VIDEO

According to the newspaper, the strikes provided fodder for the many Syrian opponents of Mr. Assad who believe that all the world's forces are arrayed against them, and that the United States has abandoned them, effectively allying with Russia, Iran and Mr. Assad.

"Russia is an accomplice in Assad's crimes today, with approval from both the U.S. and the international community to kill us," said Khoodair Khusheif, an activist in northern Homs Province. "If these raids continue this way, Russia will kill a larger number of civilians that Bashar did in four years."

The article reads: "Russia's intervention has already led regional powers like Saudi Arabia and Qatar to increase military support to the rebels. Yet the principal impact, analysts and rebel commanders say, will be to further radicalize elements in the opposition, potentially driving more to join forces with the Islamic State or other radical groups."

Pro-government Syrians, on the other hand, were jubilant and relieved after what they had seen as a weak endorsement of Mr. Assad by Mr. Putin in his United Nations speech on Monday.

Read more: Putin is thug and bully, US must massively respond to his actions, - Senator McCain

Antigovernment activists and insurgents in Homs Province said the airstrikes hit three towns north of Homs city on Wednesday - Rastan and Zaafarani, as well as Talbiseh - that have long been held by rebels fighting Mr. Assad. Activists said that 39 people, including women and children, had been killed in the three towns. The Syrian American Medical Society, which aids clinics in the area, said 33 people had been killed in the attacks, including three children and a rescue worker, the author writes

"The Army of Islam, an insurgent group with Saudi financing that is strong around Damascus, announced days ago that it was declaring war on Russia - at least wherever it reared its head in Syria," the article notes.
Источник: https://censor.net.ua/en/n354377