Members of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS have called on Russia to cease air strikes which are reportedly hitting civilians and the Syrian opposition.
In a joint statement on Friday, the United States, the U.K., France, Germany, Turkey and Gulf Arab allies said Russian strikes would “only fuel more extremism.” Meanwhile, Russia claims it is targeting ISIS. Alexei Pushkov, head of the foreign-affairs committee in Russia’s parliament said the U.S. only “pretended” to bomb the terror group and pledged Russia’s campaign would be much more effective.
Russian warplanes began airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday, September 30.
French President Francois Hollande said it was important that “the strikes, regardless of who is carrying them out, target Daesh and not other groups.” Washington expressed concerns that Russia did not appear to be targeting ISIS-held regions. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Russia’s military operations against the Syrian opposition will only “prolong the sectarian conflict inside Syria.” The U.S.-led coalition has been previously accused of causing dozens of civilian deaths in air strikes.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia is “the only country to carry out this operation [against ISIS] on the legitimate basis of the request of the legitimate government of Syria.” Critics believe Russia is trying to escape international isolation following the annexation of Crimea in March 2014.