The United States believes that Russia has started carrying out air strikes in Syria in the vicinity of Homs, a U.S. official told Reuters on Wednesday, adding that Moscow gave the United States a one-hour advanced notice of its operations.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the information on the air strikes was preliminary and declined to give any details, including on the number of strikes or the aircraft used.
According to Syrian state television, the Russian warplanes carried out several airstrikes against Islamic State targets.
However, a French diplomatic source told Reuters Wednesday that the air strikes appear aimed at supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by targeting opposition groups rather than Islamic State militants.
"If it is Homs, which it seems to be, it is not Daesh (Islamic State) that they are targeting, but probably opposition groups, which confirms that they are more in support of Bashar's regime than in fighting Daesh," the source said on condition of anonymity.
This comes after Russia's upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, approved a request by President Vladimir Putin to authorize the use of military force abroad, according to local reports.
The use of the military abroad will be related to national interests and will be limited to the use of the country's air force, local agencies reported.
The last time the Russian parliament granted Putin the right to deploy troops abroad, a technical requirement under Russian law, Moscow seized Crimea from Ukraine last year.
The Kremlin said the request was for "the deployment of a military contingent of the Russian Federation" outside the country on the basis of the "universally recognized principles and norms of international law."
Reuters contributed to this report.
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