Syrian Conflict

Russian Strikes Escalate Crisis

russian air strikes_ap
Russian military jets carried out airstrikes in Syria for the first time on Wednesday in Talbiseh in Homs province, targeting what Moscow said were Islamic State positions.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    • Russian actions in Syria are designed to expand its influence in the region. They are also a distraction from the terrible economy at home.
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  • Facts

    Facts

    • Russia carried out air strikes on Syria on Wednesday.
    • Russia’s gross domestic product shrank by 3.8 percent in the first eight months of 2015.
    • The International Monetary Fund expects GDP to keep contracting next year, at a weaker rate of 0.6 percent.
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    Audio

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On Wednesday, only two days after President Vladimir Putin held talks with U.S. counterpart Barack Obama in New York, Russian fighter jets bombed targets in Syria. The unexpected military strikes risked escalating the conflict.

After the Russian parliament Wednesday authorized the use of military force abroad, events moved quickly. A Russian official walked into the U.S. embassy in Baghdad to announce his country would begin the air strikes within an hour and requested the U.S. keep out of Syrian airspace.

Mr. Putin claims he shares the West’s aim of crushing the Islamic State, which controls large areas of Syria. However, the bombings on Wednesday were carried out north of Homs, an area where IS is not thought to be active.

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