Russian jets attack Talbiseh in Homs Province on September 30th 2015
The Syrian American Council, America's largest and oldest grassroots Syrian American organization, strongly condemns the air strikes carried out by Russian warplanes in Syria on Sept. 30. The air strikes came hours after the Russian parliament unanimously approved an authorization for the use of force in Syria. Warplanes were dispatched to carry out air strikes ostensibly to assist the Assad regime against the Islamic State.
The aerial bombardments struck towns and positions around the cites of Homs and Hama held by a U.S.-backed Free Syria Army group and NOT the Islamic State.
Major Raed al-Saleh, commander of Tajamu al-Izza, an FSA group, issued a statement confirming that Russian jets struck their base near Hama. Videos released documenting the air strikes in Hamaand Homs lead to the killing of 30 civilians that included three children and one civil defense worker.
The deliberate targeting of FSA makes it abundantly clear Russia's sole purpose in Syria is to bolster the regime of Bashar Assad not by fighting the Islamic State but in assisting in the defeat of opposition groups seeking to establish a democratic and pluralistic Syria.
The United States cannot ignore such naked aggression that stands in stark defiance of repeated calls by President Barack Obama for Assad to be removed from power.
"President Putin seeks to maintain Russia's presence in Syria through the continuation of military support for a regime responsible for the killing over 250,000 of its own people," said Mirna Barq, President of the Syrian American Council. "Senior U.S. officials have recognized and condemned Russia's actions, but more action is required from both administration officials and from members of Congress."
U.S. and Russian officials will meet soon to negotiate an agreement on air flights over Syria. The Obama administration must make it unequivocally clear that Russian air power will not be allowed to initiate future combat operations against positions held by moderate opposition forces.