Coalition urges Russia to stop targeting civilians in Syria

US, Turkey, coalition partners demand Russia 'focus its efforts on fighting ISIL' in Syria

Coalition urges Russia to stop targeting civilians in Syria

World Bulletin / News Desk

The U.S., Turkey and a group of Western and Gulf allies on Thursday urged Russia to immediately stop its airstrikes on Syrian opposition forces and civilians. 

"We express our deep concern with regard to the Russian military build-up in Syria and especially ‎the attacks by the Russian Air Force on Hama, Homs and Idlib since yesterday which led to civilian casualties and did not target ISIL," according to a joint statement by the group. 

"These military actions constitute a further escalation and will only fuel more extremism and radicalization," it added. 

The statement by the group which included Britain, France, Germany, Qatar and Saudi Arabia -- all of which take part in the international counter-ISIL coalition led by the U.S. -- came on the heels of Russia's first airstrikes in Syria. 

According to the Syrian National Coalition, the main Western-backed opposition alliance, the Russian airstrikes resulted in the deaths of 36 civilians, including five children.

The areas targeted by Russia were free of any ISIL or al-Qaeda presence, the group's chief, Khaled Khoja, said in New York on Wednesday. 

"We call on the Russian Federation to immediately cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians and to focus its efforts on fighting ISIL," the joint statement said.

Also on Thursday, the White House said the Russian military was carrying out random attacks against the Syrian opposition. 

"Carrying out indiscriminate military operations against the Syrian opposition is dangerous for Russia," said spokesman Josh Earnest in Washington. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denied his country’s airstrikes are aimed at non-ISIL positions and said Russia was targeting only the same terror groups as the coalition. 

Syria’s devastating civil war, now in its fifth year, has claimed more than 250,000 lives, according to UN figures, and made the country the world's single-largest source of refugees and displaced people.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Ekim 2015, 09:13
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