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US-Led Coalition Asks Russia to Concentrate on Fighting ISIS

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    US-Led Coalition Asks Russia to Concentrate on Fighting ISIS
    AP
    This image taken in Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 posted on the Twitter account of Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, a volunteer search and rescue group, shows the aftermath of an airstrike in Talbiseh, Syria. Russia on Wednesday carried out its first airstrikes in Syria in what President Vladimir Putin called a pre-emptive strike against the militants.

    Turkey and its allies in the U.S.-led coalition have called on Russia to immediately cease attacks on the Syrian opposition and to focus on fighting Islamic State militants, Turkey's Foreign Ministry said Friday.

    A joint statement by France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Britain and the United States expressed concern over Russia's military actions saying they will "only fuel more extremism and radicalization." The text of the statement was released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Friday, and confirmed by the French Foreign Ministry.

    Saudi and Qatari officials on Friday made no mention of the document, nor was there any mention of it in the Gulf countries' state-run media.

    Turkey and its allies are concerned that the Russian airstrikes could be serving to strengthen Syrian President Bashar Assad rather than hitting Islamic State fighters.

    Turkey, which has long pushed for Assad to be overthrown, has attacked Islamic State group targets once on its own and participated in at least one other coalition strike, but has recently focused its military efforts on Kurdish rebels.

    Russian jets made their first strikes in Syria on Wednesday, and quickly faced complaints about its targets.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday rejected suggestions that the airstrikes were meant to shore up support for Assad, Moscow's main ally in the Middle East.

    He insisted Russia was targeting the same militant groups as the U.S.-led coalition, which is conducting its own airstrikes in Syria: the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, the al-Qaida-linked Jabbat al-Nusra and other groups.

    "I would recall that we always were saying that we are going to fight ISIL and other terrorist groups," said at United Nations headquarters. "This is the same position which the Americans are taking. The representatives of the coalition command have always been saying that their targets are ISIL, al-Nusra and other terrorist groups. This is basically our position as well. We see eye-to-eye with the coalition on this one."