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Russia Begins Airstrikes Targeting Other Groups Outside of ISIS. Aired 11:00a-12:00p ET

Aired October 1, 2015 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:11] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: In the crosshairs: Russia carries out more airstrikes in Syria, but what are the targets? Moscow says ISIS

and others who spread terror, but the U.S. says rebels who oppose Syrian President Bashar al Assad are being bombed. Tonight, what's next in the

battle for Syria as global and regional powers, super powers, line up on opposing sides.

Also ahead, the battle for Kunduz, the Afghan government says it's retaken most of the country's fifth largest city from the Taliban, but how

did the city fall in the first place? I put that to the province's former governor.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: Well, first to the very latest on Syria. As we go to air, the Russian and U.S. militaries are holding talks by video conference. Now

this comes as Syria's ambassador in Moscow says Russian airstrikes have been coordinated with Damascus and are targeting not just ISIS, but quote,

all rebel groups.

Now, the Russian defense ministry says the strikes are on sparsely populated areas and are avoiding civilian casualties, but anti-government

activists say dozens of civilians have died.

This footage is purportedly the aftermath of a strike in Homs, although CNN cannot at this stage independently verify that.

Let me just take you to the UN where we are waiting on the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov to speak to reporters. A lot of moving

parts for you, viewers, at this point.

And as we await comments from Sergey Lavrov, I want to bring in our correspondents on all of this. I'm joined by CNN's global affairs

correspondent Elise Labott in New York and our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance in Moscow.

And Matt, I want to start with you as we wait on comments from the Russian foreign minister, these conflicting claims over who is being hit.

The Kremlin spokesperson and the Syrian ambassador in Moscow, I believe, now say these strikes are targeting ISIS and other rebels. Does that

include CIA backed anti-Assad groups?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it probably does if they're in opposition to Bashar al-Assad, which they most certainly


What's clearly emerging in day two of this Russian air campaign in Syria, day two of its formal involvement in the Syrian civil war, is that

it is not just ISIS that's being targeted, despite what the Russian defense ministry says, and they've released a statement earlier saying that another

four ISIS targets have been struck by a series of airstrikes overnight, carried out by Russian war planes. What's emerging, though, is that other

rebel groups are also in the firing line, in the crosshairs, video emerging from the scene on the ground in Syria.

One of the videos I saw from the province of Homs, which of course doesn't have a very big ISIS presence in it at all, but that was the first

place the Russians chose to carry out their airstrikes. So they're clearly striking at rebel groups that pose a threat to the government in Damascus

to Bashar al-Assad.

That was essentially confirmed to me within the last hour. I sat down with the Syrian ambassador to Russia Riad Hadad is his name. And he said,

yeah, that's right. The Syrians have requested the Russians helped them in their battle against ISIS, but also against the other rebel groups as well

and the Russians are doing that and they're coordinating closely with the Syrian armed forces in that process.

So, the Syrian ambassador to Russia effectively confirming that suspicion that ISIS isn't the only target for the Kremlin.

ANDERSON: A busy day in Washington. Stand by, Matthew.

A busy day both in Washington and in New York. I believe that there's a Pentagon briefing going on as we speak.

Let's bring in Elise Labott. What's the response in Washington to what we believe may be the targeting of CIA-backed rebel groups, Elise.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, officials tell me that there were various elements of the Free Syrian Army, that the U.S.,

the CIA, has backed. And clearly this is a very disturbing and escalating situation, Becky.

I mean, I think officials are feeling their way right now. They're focused, at least in the next couple of days, on these deconfliction talks

with the Russians. They certainly don't want to see some kind of miscalculation, some kind of accident where there's a clash between the

U.S. coalition and Russian forces.

But after that, I think you're going to try and get some kind of rules of the road here. I think they are going to try to push -- put some

pressure on the Russians to narrow their targets, specifically against ISIS, but you know, listen there are some mutual interests on the ground.

You do have rebel groups, but you also have groups like al-Nusra and other groups that the U.S. considers terrorists. I think they're going to try to

help narrow down the field so that the U.S.-backed rebels who, they're not only training to fight...

ANDERSON: OK, let me stop you there. Let me stop you there. The Russian foreign minister is now speaking in New York. Let's listen in.


[11:56:10] ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. If it looks like a terrorist, acts like a terrorist, walks and fights like a terrorist, it is

a terrorist.

The words of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addressing the media at the United Nations. In response to a question about who aside

from ISIS, the Russians are targeting in Syria.

He confirmed Russia do not see the Free Syrian Army as a terror threat. Russia, he says, sees it as a legitimate part of the political

process and should be part of the political process.

This, on the second day of airstrikes in Syria.

Putin -- President Putin called earlier this week for an international coalition against terrorism in Syria. The U.S. says Russia is throwing

gasoline on the fire of the Syrian civil war by intervening unilaterally and fighting ISIS without pursuing a parallel political transition. And

they say that only risks escalating the war.

The question is, is Moscow listening to Washington at this point? And how is that relationship developing?

A lot going on in New York, in Washington, in Moscow and not least of course in Syria.

I'm going to take a very short break. My colleague Robyn Curnow will pick up after this.

Good night.