Coalition demands Russia stop attacking non-ISIS groups

Russian warplanes targeting non-ISIS rebels in Syria as local residents in rebel held areas cancel Friday prayers fearing attacks

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A formation of Russian Mig 31's

Russian air strikes continued for a third day on Friday, mainly targeting locations held by the opposition fighting to topple Assad regime, rather than the ISIS militants who Russia claimed it was hitting.

The air strikes drew more anger from the US-led coalition fighting against ISIS militants. The coalition asked Russia to stop air strikes on targets other than ISIS.

"We call on the Russian Federation to immediately cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians and to focus its efforts on fighting ISIS," said the coalition, which includes the United States, major European powers, many Arab states and Turkey.

"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 Daesh," it said.

Washington and other western powers, alongside regional allies including Saudi Arabia and Turkey said, Russia is using ISIS as a pretext to target the opposition groups. Some of these opposition groups have received training from the US in collaboration with Turkey. 

Friday prayers cancelled amid fear

A local resident from rebel-held location of Homs province, an area targeted by Russian air strikes this week, said on Friday congregational prayers were cancelled amid concern of incoming attacks.

"The streets are almost completely empty and there is an unannounced curfew," said the resident.

Russian warplanes were seen flying high above the area, which is held by anti-Assad rebels and has no significant presence of ISIS militants.

On Thursday, a Russian air strike bombarded a mosque in the town of Jisr al Shughour.

TRTWorld and agencies