Kremlin: Russian Airstrikes Targeting 'List' of Non-ISIS Groups

Russia's air strikes are targeting a "list" of groups in Syria beside ISIS, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in his daily press briefing on Thursday, according to state news agency Itar-Tass.

The Kremlin's statement came after reports during the first day of Russian airstrikes in Syria from activists on the ground and government officials abroad that Russia's strikes were predominantly targeting civilians and other opposition groups in the north-west, despite Moscow's claims to be targeting ISIS.

On Wednesday, Russia was reported to have hit areas in northwestern Syria that do not contain a notable ISIS presence. Groups opposed to both ISIS and the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, however, are active in the region.

"It is important to remember that this operation is in support of the Syrian armed forces against ISIS and other extremist organisations," Peskov said. When asked if there is a list of these organisations, Peskov answered: "Of course there is. These organisations are well known. And of course the targets are determined in cooperation with the armed forces of Syria."

Peskov did not elaborate when asked further questions about the list, which organisations were on it or whether other groups had already been hit. Peskov added that "false" information about Russia's strikes had been published online and added that it was too early to assess the success of the operations.

Saudi delegate Abdallah al-Mouallimi told the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday that Russia has carried out the strikes in Homs and Hama, where he said they have hit "innocent victims" and not ISIS. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the claims "unfounded" at the time.

On Wednesday, Syrian opposition website All4Syria accused Russia of hitting the village of Zafarana in northern Homs and areas in rural Hama which are not held by ISIS. Unnamed U.S. officials told the New York Times that U.S.-backed rebels in Hama had been hit overnight.

Syrian opposition leader Khaled Khoja also posted on Twitter that Russian strikes in northern Homs had hit "[ISIS] and al-Qaida-free areas" and instead killed 36 civilians.

Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen TV reported on Thursday morning that Russian airstrikes had been carried out in the town of Jisr al-Shughour against groups opposed to ISIS and allied with al-Qaeda affiliate the Nusra Front and Islamist group Ahrar al Sham, according to The Guardian.

However, analyst for the Brookings Institute Charles Lister reported that Jisr al-Shughour and the area around has a "heavy Chechen/Russian jihadist presence." Voice of America correspondent Fatima Tlis reported that a village with a large diaspora of people from the Caucasus called Der Foul had also been hit, adding to evidence that Russia is targeting homegrown fighters.

The Russian Ministry of Defence posted a video of its strikes in Idlib and in the province of Hama on Youtube in the early hours of Thursday and said that some of the strikes in the footage were against ISIS. Lavrov said he did not have any information on civilian casualties.

The Ministry of Defence has announced that Russia has sent over 50 planes and helicopters to Syria to perform airstrikes according to Tass, while independent daily Kommersant reported that the modern Su-34 twin strike fighter was among the combat aircraft.