Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested all Western reporters ask the Russian Defense Ministry–instead of the Pentagon–for information about their airstrikes in Syria. The recommendation comes after U.S. media reported the Russians targeted perceived enemies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, not just the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
“Do not listen to the Pentagon about Russian [air] strikes, ask the Russian Defense Ministry,” Lavrov said after a UN Security Council meeting, reports Tass Russian News Agency.
Other Kremlin officials criticized the accusations against Russia in Syria and hope journalists do not become “victims of ‘a war of disinformation.’”
“There has been a certain war of disinformation for some time and everyone is trying to discredit each other,” stated Alexander Orlov, Russian Ambassador to France. “We are acting transparently.”
An unnamed U.S. official told Reuters that the planes are bombing areas not associated with the radical Islamic group. Russia’s Defense Ministry has insisted the forces will target places occupied by ISIS. However, the attacks allegedly hit areas held by groups opposing Assad in Homs and Hama provinces. Local opposition groups say that the planes hit Zafaraneh, Rastan, and Talbiseh, which do not house ISIS.
The opposition reports 36 people have died, including children.
“It is necessary to be very, very careful in regard to all statements–there is much distorted information and a lot of false information,” maintained Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman. “Don’t become a victim of perverse information.”
On Monday, Putin and President Barack Obama discussed operations in Syria. The news of the attack surprised everyone in D.C. According to CNN:
A senior U.S. defense official told CNN the Pentagon was “taken aback” by Russia’s actions. “Our presidents just talked about setting up de-confliction talks and now they just go ahead and do this? They cannot be trusted.”
Another U.S. official said: “This is not how military relations are conducted.”
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov told reporters in Moscow the planes destroyed areas containing ISIS militants.
“As a result of the airstrikes, depots with ammunition, armaments, petroleum, oil and lubricants, and accumulations of military hardware were hit,” he asserted. “The command control centers of ISIL militant formations in the mountains have been completely destroyed.”