Turkish FM condemns Russian air strikes in Syria

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu condemns recent Russian airstrikes which he says killed dozens of civilians in Idlib

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Mevlut Cavusoglu

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has condemned Russia for Sunday’s air strikes in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib.

In a written statement, Turkey’s top diplomat said Monday around 200 civilians had been killed and buildings damaged.

“Russia mainly targets the moderate opposition in Syria since it entered Syria on Sep. 30, 2015. Meanwhile, civilian residential areas have been increasingly targeted as well,” the statement read.

Cavusoglu also said Russia has launched around 4,000 aerial attacks with over 90 per cent of those targeting moderate opponents of President Bashar al-Assad.

He said those attacks had strengthened the hand of DAESH, adding that Russia was “dreaming” of handing the country over to the Assad regime again.

“The death toll of civilians due to Russian operations is over 600. Some organizations say this number is around 800. We want the world to know that more than 150 of this number are children,” Cavusoglu said.

UN peace plan

Cavusoglu said Russian operations which followed a United Nations endorsement of a Syria peace plan reached on Dec.19 had happened before the “ink had dried” on the document.

Describing Russia’s actions as “insincerity, to say the least” Turkey’s foreign minister said such bombardments needed to stop targeting the moderate opposition and civilians, otherwise the conflict would continue for years.

Russia began air operations in Syria on Sept. 30 with the aim of supporting the embattled regime of Bashar al-Assad.

While Moscow has struck DAESH, especially after a Russian civilian airliner crashed in Egypt on Oct. 31, NATO has claimed Russia was targeting groups opposed to Assad, including some that enjoy US. and Turkish support.

At least 250,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, according to UN figures.