Airstrike in Syria (illustration)
Airstrike in Syria (illustration)Reuters

Russia conducted its first airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday as part of an operation allegedly targeting Islamic State (ISIS), but apparently the actual targets were US-backed "moderate" rebel groups fighting ISIS.

An unnamed American official revealed that the Russian strikes didn't hit ISIS at all, reports Reuters. He did not specify which particular groups were targeted in the airstrikes.

Meanwhile Khaled Khoja, head of the reportedly moderate rebel Syrian National Coalition, reported on Twitter that 36 civilians were killed.

"All of the targets in strikes by Russia on northern Homs today were civilian," he wrote.

The statements solidify earlier suspicions that the campaign aims not at defeating ISIS as Russia says, but rather the rebel groups fighting Russian-backed Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, as inferred by the location of the strikes in rebel-held Homs and Hama.

Tajamu al-Izza of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) coalition which is backed by the US and has been given CIA clearance to receive anti-tank missiles reportedly was a prime target in the strikes.

A dramatic video posted to YouTube on Wednesday allegedly shows Russian planes striking a post of Tajamu al-Izza from the eyes of members of the group.

Tajamu al-Izza head Jamil Al-Saleh told BuzzFeed News that no ISIS units were stationed near his group's headquarters in Hama that was hit by Russia.

"We believe that Russia came to end the FSA and keep terrorist groups to kill the revolution. They don’t care if the US or any other countries support us," he said.