Mon Oct 5, 2015 7:57AM
US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter speaks about Russian airstrikes in Syria during a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, September 30, 2015. (Photo by AFP)
US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter speaks about Russian airstrikes in Syria during a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, September 30, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

Russia has launched a series of airstrikes aimed at combating armed militants in Syria, shortly after the upper house of the Russian parliament gave President Vladimir Putin the mandate.

It seems that Washington has been taken by surprise by Russia’s commitment to strike areas controlled by the militants who are fighting against Assad. Western nations have already expressed concerns over Russia’s efforts against the militants, many of whom have been funded and armed by the West.

Moscow says its military moves are to fight the militant Daesh movement, which has seized large areas of the country. But Russia’s commitment to the Syrian government conflicts with US policy to oust President Assad.

At the same time, Washington is considering a revision of its efforts to train militants in Syria to fight Daesh, essentially to prevent its program from totally collapsing.

Adding to the confusion, the Wall Street Journal claims the Pentagon is considering replacing the $500 million “train-and-equip” program with a more modest effort.