NATO is ‘concerned’ about the Russian military in Syria and has called on Russia to stop its air campaign after Russian fighter jets strayed into Turkish airspace on Saturday.
Following Mondays emergency meeting on the Syria crisis at its Brussels headquarters, NATO issued a statement saying:”Allies call on the Russian Federation to immediately cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians”
Moscow said it is targeting fighters from ISIS and other extremists but NATO say they are targeting Syrian rebels.
Press TV reports: The military alliance also expressed its deep concern over Russia’s military presence in Syria
It said Russia should focus on its efforts on fighting Daesh militants and “to promote a solution to the conflict through a political transition.”
The statement came one day after officials in Turkey, a NATO member, reported the violation of the country’s airspace by Russian fighter jets.
The Russian Defense Ministry has admitted the mistake, saying that bad weather had caused the incident.
The NATO statement said Russia’s military action in Syria had reached a “more dangerous level,” saying the incursions into Turkish airspace signal “irresponsible behavior” from the side of Moscow.
It said Moscow must “cease and desist and immediately explain these violations,” adding that Russia’s Su-30 and Su-24 aircraft, which reportedly violated Turkish airspace in southern Hatay region, ignored “Turkish authorities’ clear, timely and repeated warnings.”
“In accordance with NATO practice, Turkish fighter aircraft responded to these incursions by closing to identify the intruder, after which the Russian planes departed Turkish airspace,” the statement said, adding, “The security of the Alliance is indivisible, and Allies stand in strong solidarity with Turkey.”
Since Wednesday, Russia has been attacking positions of militants fighting against the Syrian government in various parts of the Arab country. The attacks have mainly targeted Daesh group in northeast Syria with military officials in Moscow saying they have managed to destroy several Daesh command posts, ammunition depots and training camps.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the country’s air force carried out 15 sorties hitting ten Daesh targets on Monday. An estimated 20 tanks were destroyed in the Tadmur district of Homs Province, the ministry said. Artillery positions were also struck, with three rocket systems and a munitions warehouse destroyed.
The United States and allies claim that Russia is deliberately attacking other militant groups that are supported by the West, a claim Moscow denies, saying it chooses its targets based on intelligence provided by the Syrian military.