US Learned of Russian Airstrikes Through Embassy Visit

A Russian general walked to the front door of the US Embassy in Baghdad on Wednesday morning to tell US officials Russian jets were about to begin airstrikes in Syria, and ask that American aircraft leave Syrian airspace, a senior US official said Tuesday. The visit was the first the US had learned that Russia was kicking off its campaign in Syria, bombing targets around the city of Homs. The areas where Russian aircraft struck did not include any ISIS targets, and instead appeared to target rebels opposing Syrian President Bashar al Assad, the official said. US aircraft on Wednesday continued to fly operations against ISIS unobstructed by Russia, including bombing runs on ISIS targets near Aleppo, the official said. While the US would welcome a “constructive role” from Russia in the fight against ISIS, Wednesday’s strikes do not appear to be indicative of that, the official said.