France Says Russian Airstrikes in Syria Should Only Target Daesh

Men inspect the damage at a site hit by what activists said were airstrikes carried out by the Russian air force on a busy market place in the town of Ariha, in Idlib province, Syria. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah

PARIS, Nov. 30 (Reuters) – Russian air strikes in Syria must clearly target only Daesh militants, France’s foreign ministry said on Monday in response to questions over recent raids by Moscow on opposition groups in the north of the country.

After travelling to the Russian capital on Thursday, French President Francois Hollande said he had agreed with his counterpart Vladimir Putin that these attacks would only hit Daesh and similar jihadi groups in Syria.

The West has accused Moscow of mostly targeting Western-backed rebel groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Asked about strikes since Friday on ethnic Turkmen areas near the Syrian-Turkish border, foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said: “There can be no possible ambiguity on the objectives being pursued, which must only target the destruction of Daesh.”

Since Hollande’s visit, tensions between Russia and Turkey over a downed Russian fighter jet have increased. Russian air strikes in northwest Syria have heavily targeted ethnic Turkmen areas, according to a Reuters data analysis of Russian defence ministry data.

Ankara has traditionally expressed solidarity with the Syrian Turkmen, who are Syrians of Turkish descent.

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