Russia defends Syrian airstrikes

By Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2015-10-19 0:23:01

Anti-terror effort requires more than going after terrorists

Russian Deputy Minister of Defense Anatoly Antonov speaks to reporters at the Sixth Xiangshan Forum on Saturday in Beijing. Photo: Liu Caiyu/GT

Russia's air campaign in Syria remains "open and transparent" and consistent with international law, said a senior Russian military official, as he discussed the necessity of collaboration against the Islamic State (IS) at the Sixth Xiangshan Forum in Beijing.

"We are coordinating with Syrian government forces in the anti-terror operation," Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said on Saturday at the security forum sponsored by the China Association for Military Science and China Institute for International Strategic Studies.

Russia joined the military coalition in Syria in late September. Antonov said the Syrian airstrikes only target IS militants, and Russia will continuously update the targets of their operations.

The Russian defense ministry said on Sunday its pilots flew 39 sorties and carried out 60 strikes in Hama, Latakia, Aleppo and Damascus, AFP reported.

Recently, it reached an agreement with the US on flight safety over Syria on technical issues, but a final deal hasn't been signed.

He said that no progress has been made in negotiations with the US, adding that "Russia is looking for a broader cooperation with the US, but clearly Washington is not ready for that."

Frederick Padilla, a US Marines major general and president of the National Defense University, said that the purpose of Russia's airstrikes in Syria differs from those of the US. "Russia's airstrikes are aimed at preserving the Syrian regime as opposed to defeating ISIS," he said in an interview with the Global Times.

Padilla said "Russians are not necessarily going after ISIS but against threats to the Assad regime.  We regard that as counterproductive," he said. He added that regional terrorism with a global impact should be dealt with.

"The only way is for all countries to unite, adopt one measure with one standard," Mohammad Ganjidoost, former ambassador and senior researcher at the Institute for Political and International Studies in Tehran, told the Global Times. He said some countries use terrorism for their own interests, and even financially support terrorists. "It's dangerous if it gets out of control."

Foreign troops do not have the right to interfere in other countries' internal affairs because it would only increase the instability in the region, said Iran's Deputy Minister of Defense, Nasrolla Kalantari.

A broad political dialogue to fight the IS is important and urgent, Andrei Kokoshin, dean of the Faculty of World Politics at Moscow State University, told the Global Times.

Padilla also said that the US seeks to work with partners across the world to create a global effort to counter terrorists. "The global effort is more than just going after terrorists, it is going after the real causes." 

Anti-terrorism should be tackled separately from other international concerns, Li Wei, director of the Center for Counter-terrorism Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times.

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