With the Russian government having voted unanimously on Wednesday to allow President Vladimir Putin to send Russian troops to Syria and conduct airstrikes, Head of Syrian Turkmen Assembly Abdurrahman Mustafa has confirmed that the airstrikes are targeting Turkmens living in Syria.
Speaking to Daily Sabah, Mustafa underlined that the Russian airstrikes are targeting rural regions located to the east of Hama and the north of Homs, where, he added, there is no Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) presence nor any radicals, only Turkmens and Syrian opposition groups. The U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter recently said Russian airstrikes in Syria appear to have targeted areas that do not include ISIS fighters; a development that Secretary of State John Kerry said would cause "grave concern" for the United States.
Underlining that the airstrikes are targeting moderate Syrian opposition groups, Mustafa further stressed that the air assaults are also affecting the Turkmens. He said while the Turkmens are facing continuous attacks by the Assad regime forces, he said Turkmen villages like Al Mukerremiyya, Talbiseh, Al Zaafarana and Al Ganto are now being attacked by Russian airstrikes leading to civilian casualties.
Saying that the villages mentioned are not controlled by the Assad regime, Mustafa added, "The regions that are targeted by the Russian fighter jets also include Turkmen refugees and have a total population of 9,000 civilians. As the regions are not controlled by the Assad regime, these regions are considered relatively safe areas. There are no radical groups residing here, only the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Turkmens." He further added to his comments by stressing that there is no al-Nusra front or ISIS militants in these areas and that it is continuously under blockade and bombardment by the regime. The head of Syrian Turkmen Assembly finalized his comments by underlining that Syrian citizens will continue to fight until the end and said, "Russia is doing its last move as it realizes Assad will go and it struggles to extend its ruling period and this is the only reason behind the airstrikes."