US-led coalition calls Russia to cease air strikes in Syria

Coalition partners including Turkey appeal to Russia to stop its air strikes in Syria over civilian death reports

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Turkish FM Feridun Sinirlioglu and US counterpart John Kerry met on Thursday in New York to discuss recent developments in Syria including Russian air strikes.

Turkey along with six other partner countries involved in the US-led coalition against ISIS issued a statement on Friday appealing to Russia to cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition forces and target only ISIS militants.

The joint statement of the seven countries - the US, UK , Germany, France, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia - said that Russia's military actions in the region would only fuel more extremism causing "further escalation" of the conflict.

The statement emphasized the "deep concern" of the countries over Moscow's air strikes as a number of 36 civilians death in Syria were reported earlier while the Russian government denied the claims.

Accordingly, Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu said on Thursday that "we are seriously concerned with the reports that Russia’s air operations yesterday did not target ISIS militants but some opposition sites and also that civilian casualties arose during the operations.’’

Over the issue of rising tension between Russia and Western countries, Sinirlioglu also met with US counterpart John Kerry on Thursday in New York.

After the closed door meeting, Turkish ministerial sources announced that the two officials focused on the recent developments in Syria, especially Russia’s air strikes, which "apparently" support the Assad regime.

The officials also said that the engagement between the countries to fight against ISIS and other terror threats was renewed in the meeting.

Ahead of the meeting, Kerry told reporters that "what matters is that Russia should not involve in any operation except from the ones against ISIS militants."

The meeting between Sinirlioglu and Kerry took place one day after Russian military forces carried out its first air strikes in western Syria which resulted in civilian death reports.

Reports by the Syrian National Coalition, the main Western-backed opposition alliance, said that Russian air strikes caused the death of 36 civilians, including five children.

The head of the group, Khaled Khoja also claimed that the regions targeted by Russia were clear of any ISIS or Al Qaida forces.

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denied the claims saying that the air strikes hit only the same targets as US-led coalition forces aimed.

TRTWorld and agencies