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In the name of bombing IS in Syria, Russia is helping Assad regime: NATO, US
Thursday October 8, 2015 6:21 PM, Agencies

The Russian military intervention in Syria is not helping to achieve a peaceful and lasting political solution in the Arab country, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.

"My concern is that the Russians are not mainly targeting IS but they are targeting other opposition groups and they are supporting the regime," Stoltenberg said upon his arrival for a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) meeting at the level of defence ministers.

"I call on Russia to play a constructive and cooperative role in the fight against IS. Not to continue to support the (Syrian President Bashar) Assad regime. Because to support the regime is not a constructive contribution to a peaceful and lasting political solution in Syria," he added.

The NATO secretary-general observed that there was a "renewed need for political initiatives to find a political solution to the crisis in Syria, because in the long term there is no military solution".

"... has to be an end to the fighting, there has to be a political solution, a transition," he said.

Meanwhile, the US said that over 90 percent of airstrikes by Russia in Syria since the last one week have not been targeted at the Islamic State, or IS, or groups with links to the Al Qaeda.

"Greater than 90 percent of the strikes that we've seen them take to date have not been against IS or Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists," said state department spokesman John Kirby on Wednesday.

"They've been largely against opposition groups that want a better future for Syria and don't want to see the Assad regime stay in power," Kirby added.

This is the first time the US government has cited figures about the targets of Russian strikes in Syria that began end of September.

Opposition groups in Syria have been accusing Russia of causing civilian casualties in attacks that they say are not targeting the IS.

Russia has denied the allegations and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the bombings in Syria, like those of the US and its allies, were only aimed at militants belonging to the IS, the al-Nusra Front and other groups affiliated to them.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Russia took another step in its involvement in the Syrian civil war with the launch of cruise missiles, fired from warships in the Caspian Sea.

In a meeting with the defence minister, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the Russian airforce will coordinate the strikes against IS positions with a ground offensive by the Syrian army against militant groups in the heart of the country.


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