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West and Mideast slam Russia over Syria airstrikes

A coalition of Western and Middle Eastern states have denounced recent Russian military action in Syria as the Kremlin announced it was making plans for a prolonged campaign in the war-torn country on Friday.

Speaking to French radio station Europe 1, the head of Russia's foreign affairs committee said its airstrike campaign in Syria could last three to four months and was likely to intensify, Reuters reported.


French President Francois Hollande welcomes Russian President, Vladimir Putin prior to their meeting at the Elysee Presidential Palace on October 02, 2015 in Paris.
Thierry Chesnot | Getty Images
French President Francois Hollande welcomes Russian President, Vladimir Putin prior to their meeting at the Elysee Presidential Palace on October 02, 2015 in Paris.

Russia's defense ministry claims to have hit 12 ISIS targets after sending out 18 deployments over 24 hours, destroying terrorist camps, command points and communications hubs in the regions around Idlib, Hama and Aleppo.

Meanwhile, a joint declaration by the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey called for an "immediate" halt to all Russian military intervention which they say have yielded civilian casualties.

"These military actions constitute a further escalation and will only fuel more extremism and radicalization," the statement posted on the Turkish foreign ministry website read.

"We call on the Russian Federation to immediately cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians and to focus its efforts on fighting ISIL."

Russia has coordinated its attacks with the Syrian army — a move that's pitted the country against Western allies which have backed Syrian rebels and called for the resignation of President Bashar Assad, who's been accused of launching chemical attacks on his own people.


But a Thursday press release from the Russian Ministry of Defense claims to have taken significant precautions in avoiding strikes against civilians.

"To prevent engagement of civil population, the targets for the Russian aviation are assigned only outside inhabited areas and only on the basis of confirmed reconnaissance data received from multiple sources," the ministry's release read.

The statement was accompanied by a video purportedly capturing a number of strikes that killed terrorist "staff," destroyed an ammunition depot in Idlib, as well as a three-story headquarters in Hama.

The news was set to cast a shadow over talks between Russian president Vladimir Putin, Ukranain President Petro Poroshenko , German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande in Paris Friday.

Some analysts suspect Russia may be using Syria to distract international attention away from Ukraine and could eventually bargain its way towards an easing of sanctions, which have held strong since Russia's annexation of Crimea last year.


Alan Mendoza, executive director on Russia and Syria from the Henry Jackson Society told CNBC's Worldwide Exchange Friday that the Russians were outright lying about their operations in Syria, which is targeting everyone opposed to President Assad's regime rather than ISIS alone.

But what's perhaps more worrying is what could go wrong between international forces.

"The idea of coordination is going to prove increasingly difficult," Mendoza said.

"I think we run the risk of a terrible accident happening where one allied nations if you like takes out another who's engaged in fighting terrorist activities," he explained.

It's unclear what sort of retaliation a military "accident" would spark. But coalition forces are unlikely to back out and have a "responsibility to protect" Syrian citizens facing "genocide," Mendoza said.

Reuters contributed to this report