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Don't attack Syrian rebels, Russia told
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 05 - 10 - 2015

Saudi Gazette report
NEW YORK — The governments of Saudi Arabia, the US, the UK, France, Germany, Qatar and Turkey have demanded Russia to halt its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians and focus on the fight against Daesh (the so-called IS).
In a joint press statement they said, “We express our deep concern over the Russian military build-up in Syria, particularly the air strikes by Russian Air Force in Hama, Homs and Idlib, which resulted in casualties among civilians and did not targeting Daesh.”
“These military actions constitute a further escalation that will only fuel extremism and militancy,” the statement said.
“We demand the Russian Federation to stop its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians immediately, and focus their efforts on the fight against the Daesh organization,” it concluded.
The statement came as Russia on Sunday prepared to ramp up its bombing campaign in Syria.
Russian bombing raids went into their fifth day despite criticism from Washington and its allies that the military action may be strengthening the militants.
On Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that “warplanes, believed to be Russian, carried out many strikes against two villages in the north of Homs province.”
The areas hit by the strikes, are largely controlled by rebels, the observatory said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said Russia was “backing the butcher Assad and helping him and really making the situation worse.”
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls for his part urged Moscow to direct strikes at the Daesh militants.
Speaking to journalists on a visit to Japan, Valls said Russia should not “get the wrong targets,” echoing the words of French President Francois Hollande to Russian President Vladimir Putin at a Paris summit on Friday.
Hollande said he had “reminded President Putin that the strikes should be aimed at Daesh and only Daesh.”
Valls also called on Russia to spare civilian lives, hitting out at President Bashar Al-Assad's sanctioning of the use of destructive weapons against his own population.
“We cannot attack civilians... Bashar's regime continues to drop barrels of petrol (barrel bombs) and chemical weapons on civilians and that is intolerable,” Valls said, going on to state his preference for a political transition in Syria that would exclude Assad.
Turkey's president said Russian air strikes are unacceptable and warned Moscow that it runs the risk of alienating itself in the region.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said before departing for France on Sunday that Russia was making a “grave mistake” and that Turkey was “saddened and perturbed” by its actions. — With agencies

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