In an attempt to bring Russia under international condemnation following the start of its air campaign in Syria Wednesday, the U.S. Air Force pointed out that the Russia’s lack of precision-guided weapons would lead to considerable civilian casualties.
The U.S. wars in the Middle East have themselves come under scrutiny due to allegations of civilian casualties, which can sometimes be unavoidable. Lt. Gen. Robert Otto accused the Russian forces of conducting the recent airstrikes in the area north of Homs, a rebel area not under ISIS control.
Otto stated, “To me, it was representative of what you’d expect from dumb bombs, being dropped from airplanes at medium altitudes, which is not that impressive.”
Russian government officials stated that civilian casualties were inevitable, but the U.S. is concerned that a campaign of indiscriminate bombing may lead to a surge in recruitment to extremist groups like ISIS.
The U.S. has stated that its air campaign in Syria practices extreme caution with its airstrikes, relying on drone surveillance to confirm the absence of civilians around potential targets.
Lt. Gen. Otto confirmed this view, stating, “Our approach has been to be very cautious with the application of force. If at the end of the day you inadvertently kill innocent men, women and children, then there’s a backlash from that. And so we might kill three, and create 10 terrorists.”
U.S. officials have claimed a desire to coordinate with the Russian military in Syria. The United States’ Deep distrust toward Russia may see that collaboration only extends to ensuring the two nations do not experience mid-air collisions as they pursue their respective military objectives.
U.S. suspicions were stoked earlier in the week after reports of an intelligence-sharing agreement between Syria, Iraq, and Russia were released. And although Kremlin officials denied the U.S. accusations of targeting rebel-held regions, they also did not reveal the exact locations of their airstrikes.