Russia starts Syrian air strikes in support of Putin ally Assad

MOSCOW _ President Vladimir Putin began air strikes to support his beleaguered Syrian ally Bashar Assad in Russia's first use of force in the Middle East since the 1980s. Russia carried out its first air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria, hitting arms and ammunition stores and transport and communication means, the Interfax news service reported, citing the Defense Ministry in Moscow. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told lawmakers in Paris that the targets weren't Islamic State. Putin gained unanimous approval from legislators in the upper house of parliament to use Russian armed forces in Syria, Kremlin Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov said Wednesday on...