US allied Syrian rebels have made an urgent appeal to the Obama administration for antiaircraft missiles in light of relentless bombing by Russian warplanes on their position. Russian warplanes bombarded Syrian rebel positions in northern Syria for a third consecutive day on Friday.
In a joint statement, the U.S. and other allied partners who have aided the Syrian rebel units pushed for Russia to end its bombing of moderate rebels and focus on fighting ISIL in Syria. The statement signed by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Germany, France, Qatar and the U.K. condemned Russian attacks on the allied backed rebels stating that the actions will only fuel more radicalization and extremism in the country.
The recent Russian strikes have targeted allied backed moderate rebels who are fighting to end the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. However, according to the Defense Ministry in Moscow, the strikes also hit ISIL targets in the north-central Syrian province of Raqqa in the heartland of Islamic State territory. Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said that the airstrikes on Friday targeted ISIL training camp and a command post located in the south of the city of Raqaa.
Continued Russian airstrikes on both the US allied rebels and ISIL positions shows that Russia’s main priority is to help President Bashar al-Assad regain control over his country. One of the rebel groups in Hama town of Latamneh were hit by no less than fifteen bombs that represented the third heaviest strike against the rebels’ positions.
Although, Russian officials have claimed that they are hitting targets of ISIL and other terrorist organizations, a spokesman for the Tajamu al-Izza rebel brigade said that the towns hit by the airstrikes do not have any other military group apart from the rebels.
The spokesman said that the video released by the Russian officials claiming that they hit the Islamic State headquarters is in fact a command and control center of the US backed rebels. The Russian air force is using Su-34 warplanes to target rebel bases. The airplanes are more sophisticated and deliver higher-ordinance missiles with greater accuracy as compared to any in the existing Syrian air force.
According to the Rebel spokesperson, the Russians are attacking rebel bases in Syria for two reasons. Firstly, the rebels are allied to the U.S. And secondly, to crush the FSA on the ground that extremist factions would conquer Syria if the Assad regime falls.
Hassan Haj Ali, the commander of another US allied rebel group Suqour al-Jabal, said that unless the US gives them anti-aircraft guns, there is further risk of radicalization of the country as the ISIL forces advance from their weakened positions. He said that they need immediate help from the US to prevent Russia and the regime from eliminating them from Syria.
In the past, the rebel’s request to provide them with anti aircraft guns has been repeatedly denied by the US and other allies. A US military official speaking on the condition of anonymity stated that any decision we take regarding the matter would take into consideration the ramifications not only for the US but also for the allies in its fight against the Islamic State.