Russian air force airstrikes in Syria entered a new and dangerous phase Oct. 3 and 4 when Russian warplanes violated Turkish airspace, according to a statement from the North Atlantic Council.
“Russian military actions have reached a more dangerous level with the recent violations of Turkish airspace on 3 October and 4 October by Russian Air Force SU-30 and SU-24 aircraft in the Hatay region,” according to a statement from the North Atlantic Council on the incidents. “The aircraft in question entered Turkish airspace despite Turkish authorities’ clear, timely and repeated warnings. In accordance with NATO practice, Turkish fighter aircraft responded to these incursions by closing to identify the intruder, after which the Russian planes departed Turkish airspace.” The North Atlantic Council met Monday to consult on the potential implications of the Russian Federation’s recent military actions in and around Syria.
“Russia’s actions are not contributing to the security and stability of the region.”
Russia has taken pains to lump all forces opposing the Assad regime as “terrorists,” whether they are ISIL or more moderate opposition forces, and U.S. and coalition sources claim the Russian strikes have fallen upon more moderate coalition-supported opposition forces rather than ISIL, or Da’esh, fighters.
“Allies expressed their deep concern with regard to the Russian military build-up in Syria and especially the attacks by the Russian Air Force on Hama, Homs, and Idlib which led to civilian casualties and did not target Da’esh,” the North Atlantic Council statement continued. “Allies call on the Russian Federation to immediately cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians, to focus its efforts on fighting ISIL, and to promote a solution to the conflict through a political transition.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed NATO’s solidarity with Turkey in a separate statement.
“I just met with the Foreign Minister of Turkey Feridun Sinirlioglu to discuss the recent military actions of the Russian Federation in and around Syria, including the unacceptable violations of Turkish airspace by Russian combat aircraft,” Stoltenberg said in the statement.
“I made clear that NATO remains strongly committed to Turkey’s security. I will convene a meeting of the North Atlantic Council later today to discuss the situation.
“Russia’s actions are not contributing to the security and stability of the region.
“I call on Russia to fully respect NATO airspace and to avoid escalating tensions with the Alliance. I urge Russia to take the necessary steps to align its efforts with those of the international community in the fight against ISIL.”