US, Coalition Nations Condemn Russian Military Action in Syria

The United States and six coalition nations working to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria issued a joint declaration on Friday, condemning Russian military activity in Syria that they say isn’t focused on defeating the militant group.

“We express our deep concern with regard to the Russian military build-up in Syria and especially the attacks by the Russian Air Force on Hama, Homs and Idlib since yesterday which led to civilian casualties and did not target [ISIS],” read a statement from the governments of the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Germany, Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. “These military actions constitute a further escalation and will only fuel more extremism and radicalization.”

The seven governments called for Russia to “immediately cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians,” and to instead “focus its efforts on fighting [ISIS].”

The statement was released just hours before a scheduled meeting between French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On Friday, the Russian military announced that it had launched 18 more combat missions, attacking 12 ISIS facilities within Syria. Those strikes destroyed a command and communication center, bunkers, ammunition and other ISIS-controlled facilities.

Some of the strikes were aimed around ISIS’ de facto “capital,” the city of Raqqa.