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‘Only one in 20’ Russia strikes have targeted ISIS

British intelligence observed that five percent of the strikes had attacked the militant group, with most ‘killing civilians’

Published: Updated:

Only one in 20 Russian air strikes in Syria have targeted ISIS fighters, Britain’s Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said Saturday.

British intelligence services observed that five percent of the strikes had attacked the militant group, with most “killing civilians” and Free Syrian forces fighting against the regime of president Bashar al-Assad, Fallon told the Sun newspaper.

Men stand along a crater caused by what activists said was a Russian air strike in Latamneh city on Wednesday, in the northern countryside of Hama, Syria. (Reuters)
Men stand along a crater caused by what activists said was a Russian air strike in Latamneh city on Wednesday, in the northern countryside of Hama, Syria. (Reuters)

He said that Russia’s intervention had further “complicated” the crisis, while suggesting that Britain should extend its own bombing campaign -- currently only operational against ISIS in Iraq -- to Syria.

“We’re analyzing where the strikes are going every morning,” he told the paper. “The vast majority are not against ISIS at all.

Russian air force Su-30MKI fighter jet takes off during the MAKS-2015 International Aviation and Space Show in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow, Russia. (File: AP)
Russian air force Su-30MKI fighter jet takes off during the MAKS-2015 International Aviation and Space Show in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow, Russia. (File: AP)

“Our evidence indicates they are dropping unguided munitions in civilian areas, killing civilians, and they are dropping them against the Free Syrian forces fighting Assad.

“He’s shoring up Assad and perpetuating the suffering.”

In this Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015 file pool photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, meets with officers after military exercises at Donguz range in Orenburg region, Russia. With dozens of Russian combat jets and helicopter gunships lined up at an air base in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready for a big-time show at the United Nations General Assembly. Observers expect the Russian leader to call for stronger U.N.-sanctioned global action against the Islamic State group and possibly announce some military moves in his speech on Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. (Alexei Nikolsky/RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, file)
In this Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015 file pool photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, meets with officers after military exercises at Donguz range in Orenburg region, Russia. With dozens of Russian combat jets and helicopter gunships lined up at an air base in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready for a big-time show at the United Nations General Assembly. Observers expect the Russian leader to call for stronger U.N.-sanctioned global action against the Islamic State group and possibly announce some military moves in his speech on Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. (Alexei Nikolsky/RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, file)

Despite Russia’s actions, Fallon insisted the British government would make the case to extend the RAF’s strikes, saying it would be “morally wrong” not to target ISIS in Syria.

“We can’t leave it to French and Australian, American aircraft to keep our own British streets safe,” he added.

U.S. President Barack Obama warned Friday that Russia’s military engagement in Syria in support of strongman Bashar al-Assad was a “recipe for disaster.”

Russian jets launched a fourth day of air raids in Syria Saturday, a monitor said, hitting ISIS's main stronghold after claims Moscow was instead targeting moderate rebel factions.

"Several Russian strikes hit IS positions west of Raqa overnight and explosions were heard in the city," Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP.

Raqa has acted as the extremist group's de facto Syrian "capital" since 2013.