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Defense secretary Ashton Carter reacts to Russian airstrikes on Syria




Russia confirmed on Septemer 30 that it carried out its first airstrike in Syria, near the city of Homs, marking the formal start of Moscow's military intervention in the 4.5-year-old conflict.
Russia confirmed on Septemer 30 that it carried out its first airstrike in Syria, near the city of Homs, marking the formal start of Moscow's military intervention in the 4.5-year-old conflict.
MAHMOUD TAHA/AFP/Getty Images

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Speaking at the Pentagon today, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Russian airstrikes are tantamount to "pouring gasoline on the fire" in Syria. Carter said a strategy for a political transition in Syria must occur parallel to military action.

Earlier today, the Russian military launched airstrikes in the Middle East country, claiming its targeting so-called Islamic State (IS) militants, but U.S. government officials say the strikes are targeting groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad. 

"By supporting Assad and seemingly taking on everyone who is fighting Assad, you're taking on the whole rest of the country of Syria," Carter said. "That is not our position. At least some parts of the anti-Assad opposition belong in the political transition going forward. That's why the Russian approach is doomed to fail."

According to the Associated Press, Russia notified U.S. officials of the planned bombings about an hour before they launched. Speaking at the United Nations Security Council, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the strikes would have U.S. support if they target IS solely.

Meanwhile, on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said airstrikes near the city of Homs indicate Russian President Vladimir Putin's true intentions are to support Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Earlier in the day,  Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said she thinks it's possible that Russia's move in Syria could be a positive development.
    
Feinstein, who is the ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said help from "Russia and Iran in a political solution for Syria is important."

The U.S. conducted airstrikes in Syria as planned Wednesday, not near where Russian jets are operating.

With files from the Associated Press.

Guest:

Philip Ewing, Senior Defense Reporter, POLITICO joins from the Pentagon



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