US President Barack Obama and UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon assail Russia over the Syrian raids….reports Asian Lite News
US President Barack Obama has said Russia’s strikes – which began on Wednesday – are “only strengthening” the IS position.
The problem here is Assad and the brutality that he’s inflicted on the Syrian people, and it has to stop,” Mr Obama said at a White House news conference, BBC reported.
Obama warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia – and another Assad ally, Iran – faced dangers ahead.
“A military solution alone, an attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up Assad and try to pacify the population is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire. It won’t work. They will be there for a while if they don’t take a different course.”
But he conceded that neither Russia nor the US would engage in a “proxy war” because of their differences over Syria.
“We’re not going to co-operate with a Russian campaign to destroy anyone who is disgusted and fed up with Assad.”
He added: “From their [Russia’s] perspective, they’re all terrorists. And that’s a recipe for disaster.”
UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said Russia has carried out “unguided” bombing in Syria that has led to the deaths of civilians.
He told the Sun newspaper that Russia’s involvement would not prevent the UK from making a case for RAF strikes against IS in Syria.
Russia said its aircraft had hit IS command centres and arms depots.
Mr Fallon said initial Ministry of Defence intelligence suggested only one in 20 Russian air attacks so far had been on targets to damage IS.
He said: “We’re analysing where the strikes are going every morning. The vast majority are not against IS at all.
Our evidence indicates they are dropping unguided munitions in civilian areas, killing civilians, and they are dropping them against the Free Syrian forces fighting Assad. He’s shoring up Assad and perpetuating the suffering.”
Mr Fallon said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to become involved “has complicated the situation” but it would be “morally wrong” for the UK not to target IS in Syria, as well as Iraq.
“We can’t leave it to French, Australian and American aircraft to keep our own British streets safe,” he said.
Russia’s targets included the IS stronghold of Raqqa, but also Aleppo, Hama and Idlib – provinces with little IS presence.
In another development, a former senior military adviser told BBC2’s Newsnight the UK’s policy in Syria had been hampered by “wishful thinking” about what would happen to President Assad’s regime.
Lt Gen Sir Simon Mayall said that UK policy makers had got caught up in the excitement of the Arab spring and hoped the Syrian leader would be swiftly overthrown, whereas the Russians had been “in many ways more realistic about the staying power of Assad”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has argued in recent weeks that his country’s operation in Syria is designed to prevent the type of state implosion that took place in Libya after Nato’s intervention there in 2011.