The Times of Israel is liveblogging Wednesday’s events as they unfold.
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Assad welcomes Russian decision to send troops to Syria

The office of Syrian President Bashar Assad welcomes Russia’s decision to send troops to Syria, saying the military support came at the request of Damascus.
Wednesday’s statement says Assad had sent a letter to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, asking for the military support. Assad’s Facebook page also reiterated that the support “came upon a request from the Syrian state.”
The statements came shortly after Russian lawmakers voted unanimously to let Putin send Russian troops to Syria. The Kremlin sought to play down the decision, saying it will only use its air force in the Mideast country, not ground troops.
Russia has been one of Assad’s strongest allies since the Syrian crisis began in March 2011 killing more than 250,000 people and turning millions more into refugees.
— AP

US confirms Russian airstrikes in Syria

The US is confirming Russian airstrikes in Syria, with an American official telling CNN that Moscow told Washington not to fly any warplanes in Syria. Sources inside Syria are reporting at least 27 people are dead in the Russian strikes.
The senior official tells CNN that Russia provided no information of the location of its targets in Syria. The source says that American missions are continuing as planned.

Ralph Lauren quits as CEO of his fashion empire

Ralph Lauren is handing off his title as CEO of the fashion and home decor empire that he founded nearly 50 years ago. Stefan Larsson, the global president of Gap’s thriving low-price Old Navy chain, is replacing him in the role.
Speaking from his luxurious office in Midtown Manhattan, the iconic 75-year-old designer, born Ralph Lifshitz to Jewish immigrant parents, says that he’s not slowing down, but sees Larsson, 41, as a partner as the company spearheads future sales growth.
“I am here, and I am not leaving,” said Lauren. “Stefan is coming to the company because I really believe he’s going to be an interesting addition.”
The change is effective from November, and Larsson will report to Lauren who will continue to drive the company’s vision and strategy as executive chairman and chief creative officer.
— AP

Reports: Russia strikes Syria as lawmakers okay military action

Reports are emerging that Russia has begun to carry out air strikes inside Syria, on the same day that Russian lawmakers vote unanimously to let President Vladimir Putin send troops to Syria.
Sky News in Arabic says that the warplanes are targeting areas in the Governorate of Hama.
The Kremlin says Moscow is not going to send ground troops to Syria, and will only use its air force “in order to support the government Syrian forces in their fight against the Islamic State” group, according to AP. But witnesses say the areas hit by Russian strikes, including the village of Al-Lataminah, are not occupied by IS fighters.

Ya’alon in West Bank: There will be no settlement freeze

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon says Israel will respond with a heavy hand to any threat to its security or sovereignty, the Hebrew-language Walla website reports.
Speaking during a visit to the Hebron Hills in the southern West Bank, Ya’alon also says that “there is not, nor will there be, a freeze in [settlement] construction, given that our legitimacy to settle the land has come under attack.”