Hollande, Putin to Discuss Russian Airstrikes in Syria

Hollande, Putin to Discuss Russian Airstrikes in SyriaHollande, Putin to Discuss Russian Airstrikes in Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart François Hollande will hold talks amid mounting tensions over Russian strikes in Syria.

Putin and Hollande’s tête-à-tête comes a day after Russia released a new wave of bombings in Syria, saying it had hit five targets belonging to the Islamic State group, AFP reports.

A US-led coalition has been targeting IS for about a year and is carrying out near-daily airstrikes in Syria, but the Pentagon worries any run-in with Russian planes could spark a major international incident.

Turkey and its partners in the US-led coalition issued a joint statement on Friday expressing their anxiety over Russia’s airstrikes.

“We express our deep concern with regard to the Russian military buildup 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 Daesh,” the statement said, using the Arabic acronym for the IS group.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the UN Russia was targeting the same terror groups as the US-led coalition, including the IS group and Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate the Al-Nusra Front.

“If it acts like a terrorist, if it walks like a terrorist, if it fights like a terrorist, it’s a terrorist, right?” he asked.

Putin also rejected allegations that civilians had been killed in Russian raids, describing the reports on Thursday as “information warfare”.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said it had hit five IS targets, including a training camp and command post in northwest Idlib province.

“We have prevented IS fighters from reestablishing a command post in ... Hama province that had been destroyed,” added Russian spokesman Igor Konashenkov.

Earlier, Moscow said its raids had destroyed a “terrorist” headquarters, a weapons warehouse, a command center and a car bomb factory.