EU foreign ministers urge Russia to stop attacks on moderate Syrian opposition


EU foreign ministers urged Russia on Monday to stop its attacks in Syria and said the escalation of military violence undermines a solution to the conflict.

The European Council said in a statement on Monday: "The recent Russian military attacks that go beyond ISIS and other UN-designated terrorist groups, as well as on the moderate opposition, are of deep concern, and must cease immediately."

"This military escalation risks prolonging the conflict, undermining a political process, aggravating the humanitarian situation and increasing radicalization," the statement added. "Our aim should be to de-escalate the conflict. The EU calls on Russia to focus its efforts on the common objective of achieving a political solution to the conflict. "

EU foreign ministers gathered in Luxembourg on Monday to discuss the situation in Syria, as the 28-nation bloc is facing the worst migrant crisis since World War II.

The meeting came on the same day as Russia's President Vladimir Putin defended on Monday his country's intervention in Syria, telling the state-run Rossiya-1 television channel that Moscow's intention was to "stabilize the legitimate authorities" in the country.

Russia began air operations in Syria on Sept. 30. The Kremlin claims the airstrikes are aimed at supporting the forces of Russia's ally, President Bashar al-Assad, against ISIS.

However, Turkey and the West have accused Russia of targeting moderate fighters opposed to Assad, many of which are supported by Turkey and the U.S.

At least 250,000 men, women and children have been killed since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, with 7.6 million displaced inside the country and over 4 million having fled into neighboring and other countries, according to the European Council.

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