Hundreds of Iranian troops have arrived in Syria to join a major ground offensive in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s government, Lebanese sources said on Thursday, a further sign of the rapid internationalization of a civil war in which every major country in the region has a stake. Russian warplanes, in a second day of strikes, bombed a camp run by rebels trained by the CIA, the group’s commander said, putting Moscow and Washington on opposing sides in a Middle East conflict for the first time since the Cold War.

The U.S. and Russian militaries were due to hold talks via video link to seek ways to keep their militaries apart as they wage parallel campaigns of air strikes in Syria, a U.S. defense official said. Russian jets struck targets near the cities of Hama and Homs in western Syria on the second day of their air campaign. Moscow said it had hit Islamic State positions, but the areas it struck are mostly held by a rival insurgent alliance, which unlike Islamic State is supported by U.S. allies including Arab states and Turkey. CONTINUE

it is also being reported that Vladimir Putin has signed a decree drafting nearly 150,000 conscripts into the Russian military as Moscow’s warplanes unleashed a new wave of airstrikes in Syria.  The timing of the move – on the very day Russia entered the conflict yesterday – will likely raise suspicions the Russian President is planning a wider offensive to prop up his Syrian counterpart. It also comes after one of Putin’s staunchest allies called on him to send in Muslim ground troops to defeat the Islamic State and other Islamist extremist groups in the war-torn country.  CONTINUE