President of the Syrian Coalition Khaled Khoja said that Russia had only fired “a few missiles” at ISIS targets in Syria.
“Russia has only launched a few missiles at Daesh,” Khoja said during a panel discussion in Turkish capital, Ankara, on Thursday. The event was organized by the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), a Turkish think tank.
“I have never heard of them [ISIS] sustaining serious losses as a result of Russian airstrikes,” he added.
“Many civilians have been killed in the Syrian cities of Raqqa and Deir Ezzor,” Khoja noted, going on to assert that some 600 civilians had been killed by Russia’s ongoing air campaign in Syria, now in its third month.
“One of the underlying causes behind the Russian aggression on Syria is Russia’s realization of the inevitability of the fall of the Assad regime, coupled with the United States’ reluctance to act in Syria.”
“Since the emergence of ISIS in mid-2013, neither Assad’s forces, nor the international coalition forces have waged a serious war against this group,” Khoja added.
“Russia has taken the decision to directly intervene in Syria after two visits to Russia by Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Quds Force, in August and September. Soleimani told the Russians that the Assad regime is on the verge of collapse.”
Khoja went on: “Iran has brought about 60,000 mercenaries to fight alongside Assad forces which suffers sever shortage of men. But when those mercenaries failed to tip the balance in favor of regime forces, Russia resorted to the Russians to provide help.”
Khoja asserted that Russia is seeking to establish “a sectarian mini-state in Syria’s coastal region through targeting specific areas in Hama and Homs provinces, especially in Al-Ghab plain. Through focusing much of its firepower on the areas adjacent to the Syrian coast, Russia is effectively drawing the borders of the mini-state Assad seeks to establish.”
Khoja pointed out that the Russian aerial campaign is focused on areas in northern Aleppo province, where Turkey aims to establish a safe zone. “Aleppo is surrounded by Iranian militias from the south and by ISIS from the north. Moreover, the YPG militias, the military wing of the Democratic Union Party, are stationed in areas near the city.”
“If the FSA is left without support, the safe zone project will be seriously damaged. Moderate rebel fighters count over 70,000; however, this number is not enough and cannot protect civilians from aerial bombardment. Providing real and tangible support for Syrian moderate rebels will help protect civilians, which will, in turn, help solve the refugee crisis and curb the spread of extremism.” (Source: Syrian Coalition)