DAMASCUS: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned the success of Russia’s military intervention in his war-torn country was vital for the entire Middle East, as Moscow ramped up its bombing campaign Sunday.
Russian raids against what Moscow says are Islamic State group targets entered a fifth day despite accusations in the West that the strikes are mainly targeting moderate opponents of the regime.
“The alliance between Russia, Syria, Iraq and Iran must succeed or else the whole region will be destroyed,” Assad said in an interview broadcast by Iranian state television.
“The chances of success for this coalition are great and not insignificant,” he added. Western and Gulf countries insist Assad must step down after presiding over more than four years of a civil war that has killed more than 240,000 people.
Russia said it had dropped concrete-buster munitions on new IS targets and destroyed command posts, storehouses and other infrastructure.
“From the airbase of Hmeimim, the Russian aviation group is continuing to ramp up air strikes using high-precision missiles against the ISIS facilities in Syria,” said the defence ministry, referring to IS.
Washington accuses Russia of seeking to buttress Assad and of targeting Western-backed moderate opposition and IS fighters alike.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman challenged the West’s distinction between jihadist and other Islamist rebel groups, saying it had failed to explain the term “moderate opposition”.
Putin, who met the leaders of France and Germany in Paris on Friday, had “expressed a lively interest in the subject and asked what the difference between the moderate opposition and the immoderate opposition is,” Dmitry Peskov said on television late Saturday. “So far, no one really has managed to explain what the moderate opposition is.” —AFP