Russian air strikes in Syria did hit US-funded Free Syrian Army rebels, says John McCain

The Free Syrian Army said some of its allies in Hama had been attacked

Lizzie Dearden
Thursday 01 October 2015 13:46

John McCain has said he can “absolutely confirm” that Russian air strikes have hit Free Syrian Army recruits who had been armed and trained by the US.

Speaking to CNN, the American senator said Russia had carried out “some” strikes against Isis but that others did not target extremists.

“Their initial strikes were against the individuals and groups that have been funded and trained by our CIA in an incredible flaunting of any kind of co-operation or effort to conceal what Putin’s first priority is, and that is of course to prop up Bashar al-Assad,” he added.

John McCain was critical of US government policy

“I can absolutely confirm to you that they were strikes against the Free Syrian Army or groups that have been armed and trained by the CIA because we have communication with people there…this is an Orwellian experience.”

Mr McCain, a Republican, blamed “failure after failure” of American military policy, including under Barack Obama, for the current situation.

The politician is also chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mr McCain was also highly critical of Vladimir Putin, saying international leaders should have “conversations” with him but had to “recognise him for who he is and what he is”, referring to some of the Russian President’s past remarks on the Soviet Union.

The Russian government denied accusations that strikes hit non-Isis rebels on Wednesday but later admitted that the so-called Islamic State was not the only group it would target.

Mr Putin’s official spokesperson announced this morning that “well known” militant groups were in its sights but did not name individual organisations.

“These organisations (on the target list) are well-known and the targets are chosen in coordination with the armed forces of Syria,” Dmitry Peskov said.

Intitial reports today indicated that areas under the control of other rebel groups, including Jisr al-Shugour, Kafr Nabl and Ghanto, were being bombed, along with the towns of Talbiseh and Latamneh, where witnesses claimed they were also hit by the Russians on Wednesday

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