WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama on Saturday said President Bashar al-Assad was the problem in Syria who had inflicted brutality on Syrian people and no cooperation would be extended to Russia for bombing anyone opposing Assad.
He said the Russian bombing campaign in Syria in support of Assad is driving moderate opposition underground and ‘only strengthening’ Islamic State (IS).
Obama said he rejected the Russian assertion that all armed opponents of the ‘brutal’ Assad were terrorists.
Moscow insists its air strikes, which began on Wednesday, are targeting IS.
But the Syrian opposition and others have suggested non-IS rebels are bearing the brunt of Russian attacks.
Russia said its aircraft had hit IS command centres, arms depots and military vehicles. Targets included the IS stronghold of Raqqa, but also Aleppo, Hama and Idlib – the provinces with little IS presence.
‘The problem here is Assad and the brutality that he’s inflicted on the Syrian people, and it has to stop,’ Obama said at a White House news conference.
‘We’re not going to co-operate with a Russian campaign to destroy anyone who is disgusted and fed up with Assad. ‘From their (Russia’s) perspective, they’re all terrorists. And that’s a recipe for disaster.’