The military ramp up we've seen from Moscow over the last few weeks shot into clear focus Wednesday, when Russian warplanes began striking their first targets in Syria.
But now a larger question lingers. Who were those targets?
This is Russia's largest military foray outside the former Soviet Union since 1989. Backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, it's a move the Kremlin has repeatedly insisted is focused on Daesh (ISIS) and Daesh alone.
Following Wednesday's strikes, Russian defence ministry spokesman General Igor Konshenkov told reporters “Russian air force planes have commenced air operations with surgical strikes against identified Isil [Daesh] ground targets," adding many of the group's weapons depots and ammunitions had also been destroyed.
Reports from the ground tell a different story.
Airstrikes hit two targets in the Homs province, three in Hama and two in Assad's coastal heartland of Latakia—all of which are not controlled by Daesh.
Many are instead controlled by factions of the Free Syrian Army, including those backed by US and other Western powers. Meanwhile, clear skies shone over Daesh's de facto capital of Raqqa, in eastern Syria.
So what does it mean? One theory is that to save Assad, Russia is aiming not a Daesh, but at the opposition groups who've spent the last five years trying to oust him.
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