EU Demands Russia 'Immediately' End Some Syria Airstrikes
by VOA News October 12, 2015
The European Council on Monday called for Russia to 'immediately' end military attacks in Syria that do not target Islamic State or other U.N.-designated terrorist organizations.
Russia's Defense Ministry says its aircraft hit 53 targets in Syria in the past 24 hours, posting videos online of what it described as airstrikes against an IS training camp in Idlib province and underground IS facilities in Lattakia province.
Nearly two weeks into Russia's controversial military campaign in coordination with the Syrian government, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday he supported stabilizing Bashar al-Assad's government to 'create the right conditions for reaching a political compromise.'
U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura, who is tasked with bringing warring factions in Syria to the negotiating table, told a news conference on Monday he would hold talks in Russia on Tuesday before heading to Washington, in an effort to forge an understanding between to the two countries that are both conducting anti-Islamic State offensives.
Syria is in its fourth year of civil war, pitting a range of rebel groups against each other and state forces. It faces additional offensives from Islamic State militants in several parts of the country.
The United States leads a separate air campaign against Islamic State fighters in Syria that began 13 months ago, but has been unsuccessful in tempering the militants' advances there.
In Washington, defense officials and the White House have criticized Russia for its entry into Syrian fighting, in part because the new military campaign has targeted some opposition groups supported by the United States, but are anti-Assad.
On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said advances have been made in working with Washington on fighting in Syria.
'We still don't 100 percent share the same view on the situation up to every step with our partners in the region, with the Americans, with our other colleagues, but we absolutely have progress,' Lavrov said.
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Russia's military action in Syria is a 'game-changer' that has 'some very worrying elements.'
Before an EU foreign ministers meeting Monday in Luxembourg, Mogherini said actions against Islamic State militants have to clearly be carried out against the group and other terrorists defined by the United Nations.
She said she believes the European Union, Russia and the United States have common ground in Syria based on U.N. Security Council resolutions and a U.N. framework, but that their action must be coordinated.
Otherwise, she said, there are 'extremely dangerous' risks particularly militarily.
On Sunday, U.S. President Barack Obama told CBS television's 60 Minutes that Russia's intervention in Syria is aimed at saving Assad's government.
'Syria was Russia's only ally in the region,' Obama said. 'And today, rather than being able to count on their support and maintain the base they had in Syria, which they've had for a long time. Putin now is devoting his own troops, his own military, just to barely hold together by a thread his sole ally.'
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