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EU nations criticize Russia's military moves in Syria

Published: Updated:

European Union nations on Monday criticized Russia's military intervention in Syria, with the bloc's top diplomat calling it a worrying "game changer."

It demanded the "immediate" halt of Russian air strikes against moderate Syrian rebel groups, adding that a lasting peace was impossible under Moscow-backed President Bashar al-Assad.

But EU countries maintained Moscow's efforts wouldn't keep President Bashar Assad in power.

EU foreign ministers warned Moscow to center its military actions in Syria on the Islamic State group. "The recent Russian military attacks that go beyond Daesh (Islamic State) and other U.N.-designated terrorist groups, as well as on the moderate opposition, are of deep concern and must cease immediately," the EU's 28 foreign ministers said in a statement.

"It has to be coordinated" among the U.S., the EU and Russia, EU foreign minister Federica Mogherini said of the attacks in Syria. "Otherwise it risks being extremely dangerous, not only from a political point of view, but mainly from a military point of view."

Russian airstrikes have backed moves by Syrian troops against insurgents in the center of the country, but President Vladimir Putin has said Russian efforts would help reach a political settlement.