American President Barack Obama has warned Russia that its bombing campaign to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will suck Moscow into a quagmire that will be hard to get out of.
Obama said Russia was also failing to distinguish between Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters and more moderate rebels in Syria.
“An attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up Assad and try to pacify the population is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire and it won’t work,” Obama told a White House news conference on Friday.
“From their perspective, they’re all terrorists. And that’s a recipe for disaster.”
Russia continued bombing Syria on Friday for a third straight day. Targets have included ISIL’s main stronghold in Raqqa, but also the provinces of Hama, Aleppo and Idlib where few ISIL fighters operate.
Obama said he would not turn the Syrian civil war into a “proxy war” between the US and Russia. “This is not some superpower chessboard contest,” he said.
Fresh Russian attacks
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch strikes on Syria marks a dramatic escalation of foreign involvement in a more than four-year-old civil war in which every major country in the region has a stake.
Earlier, Russia said it had launched fresh air strikes against ISIL in Syria.
The Russian defence ministry said that the latest strikes targeted a facility used to produce explosive devices near the city of Maarat an Numan in Idlib province, as well as a nearby “terrorist” base.
An underground command post had been destroyed in a strike in Latamna, in Hama province, it said.
“Six strikes were conducted on targets of the ISIL terrorist group in 14 flights,” the defence ministry said in a statement on the third day of its military intervention.