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Saudi Arabia demands Russia end Syria raids

Russia launched its first air strikes in Syria since its civil war began Wednesday [AFP]

Date of publication: 1 October, 2015

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Saudi Arabia has demanded its ally Russia to end raids on Syria, saying the strikes have caused civilian casualties while failing to target Islamic State militants, which Moscow opposes.

Saudi Arabia has demanded that Russia ends its strikes on Syria, reported Reuters on Thursday.

The Gulf state, which opposes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said the strikes were causing civilian casualties and failing to target Islamic State group militants.

"Russia and Iran could not say they were fighting Islamic State terrorism, while supporting the terrorism of the Syrian authorities," said a senior Saudi diplomat speaking at the UN in New York.

Saudi ambassador to the UN Abdallah Al-Mouallimi expressed "profound concern" regarding the military operations which Russian forces have carried out in Homs and Hama, saying that "ISIS forces are not present in these places". 

"These attacks led to a number of innocent victims. We demand it stop immediately and not recur," Mouallimi said.

"As for those countries that have claimed recently to join in the fight against IS terrorism, they can't do that at the same time as they support the terrorism of the Syrian regime and its terrorist foreign allies like Hizballah and the Quds Force and other terrorist sectarian groups," he added.

Russia launched its first airstrikes in Syria since the country's civil war began Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Russia and the US agreed Wednesday to call urgent military talks to head off the risk of clashes between their forces, after Moscow's dramatic entrance into the Syrian war.

Senior US officials expressed alarm after Russian warplanes began their first military engagement outside the former Soviet Union since the occupation of Afghanistan in 1979.

The Americans accused Russia of striking moderate rebel factions fighting Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime under cover of their claimed assault on the Islamic State group.

They complained the US-led coalition already fighting its own air war against the extremists had only been given a heads-up by a Russian general in Baghdad one hour before bombing began.

But, after sharp public comments in Washington and the United Nations, US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian opposite number Sergei Lavrov put a brave face on the dispute.

Appearing together on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, they said they would hold "de-confliction" talks and had drawn up proposals to relaunch a Syrian political peace process.

"We agreed on the imperative of as soon as possible - perhaps even as soon as tomorrow, but as soon as possible - having a military to military de-confliction discussion," Kerry said.

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