On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said one of the key objectives of Moscow’s anti-terror airstrikes in Syria is to preserve the Arab country’s territorial integrity.
Russia, he predicted during a White House press conference, would get stuck in a “quagmire”, adding, “It just won’t work, and they’re going to stay there for a while”.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said he sees a strong case for conducting British air strikes against Islamic State in Syria, but he wants to make sure he has enough support in parliament to gain approval.
Syrian state media and opposition representatives have reported Russian strikes in areas of central Syria, including Hama, where other rebel forces including the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda – but not Islamic State – are typically thought to operate. “We are not going to cooperate with a Russian campaign to simply try to destroy anybody who is disgusted and fed up with Mr. Assad’s behavior”. “The representatives of the coalition command have always been saying that their targets are ISIL, Al-Nusra and other terrorist groups”.
But there were also reports of strikes targeting a radio mast and communications tower in Aleppo that belonged to the Free Syrian Army – forces opposed to President Assad which have received American training and supplies.
“The streets are nearly completely empty and there is an unannounced curfew”, said a resident, speaking from the town of Rastan which was hit in the first day of Russian air strikes. “I think we’ve changed the relationship”.
Moscow says it is targeting the Islamic State jihadist group, but Washington and its allies suspect its military intervention is aimed at keeping in power President Bashar al-Assad under the guise of fighting “terrorism”.
The entire world has a common interest in destroying ISIL Obama said he told Putin.
“Several Russian strikes” hit Daesh positions west of the provincial capital, also called Raqqa, overnight, and “explosions were heard in the city”, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said of the Saturday raids.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said its latest air strikes had put an “IS command point out of action”.
“It’s absolutely clear that Russian Federation is not discriminating between ISIL and the legitimate Syrian opposition groups and, as a result, they are actually backing the butcher Assad and helping him and really making the situation worse”, said Cameron, using an alternative acronym for IS.
A joint statement by France, Turkey, the U.S., Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Britain expressed concern that Russia’s actions will “only fuel more extremism and radicalization.”.