Ash Carter: Russia May Not Be Targeting Islamic State in Syria

Defense Secretary Ash Carter
Defense Secretary Ash Carter / AP

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said during a press briefing at the Pentagon that Russia may not have been targeting the Islamic State in Syria when it launched airstrikes earlier Wednesday.

According to Politico, Carter labeled the bombs dropped by Russian warplanes "contradictory" and admitted that Moscow’s forces were striking an area where there "probably were not" Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL or ISIS) terrorists.

"We have been observing Russian activities and I don’t want to go into detail about that at this time, but the reason, one of the reasons why the Russian position is contradictory is exactly the potential for them to strike as they may well have in places where ISIL is not present … others are present," Carter told journalists in Washington, D.C.

He said that the airstrikes will further "inflame" the chaos in Syria as the civil war wages there under the Bashar al-Assad regime. Carter also emphasized that Russia is "ill-advised to take this kind of action in support of Assad only."

Russia on Wednesday launched its first airstrikes in Syria, dropping bombs near the city of Homs that is not under the control of IS. Moscow has defended its military buildup in Syria as an attempt to help Assad combat the terrorist group.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said earlier Wednesday that the Obama administration could not confirm who the airstrikes were targeting.

The airstrikes came just days after President Obama met Putin at the United Nations General Assembly in New York to discuss Moscow’s military activity in Syria. Putin has ignored U.S. warnings against increasing military aid in Syria, flying aid and troops to the region where it appears to be constructing a military base.