Russia has carried out "unguided" bombing in Syria that has resulted in the deaths of civilians, UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said. Ministry of Defence intelligence suggests that only 1-in-20 of Russia's raids – just 5% – has hit Islamic State (Isis) targets.
Fallon has said the "vast majority" of Russia's air strikes were killing civilians and pro-democracy forces, such as the Free Syrian forces, which fighting against Bashar al Assad's military forces. Assad is a close ally of Putin.
"We're analysing where the strikes are going every morning. The vast majority are not against IS at all," Fallon told The Sun. "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 [Putin] shoring up Assad and perpetuating the suffering."
Moscow has insisted that it is targeting Isis positions with its air raids – not civilians. Fallon also criticised Putin for hindering plans to introduce a no-fly zone to protect refugees.
The UK defence secretary was speaking ahead of the Conservative Party Conference taking place in Manchester on Saturday (3 October). Fallon stated that Britain should extend its bombing campaign to include Syria.
It would be "morally wrong" not to target IS in Syria, he said, adding: "We can't leave it to French and Australian, American aircraft to keep our own British streets safe."
However, Russian intervention could delay an imminent Commons vote on the issue. A government source confirmed to the Daily Mail that after Putin made the decision to order air strikes in support of Assad, the planned vote on Syria is now "not imminent". It could be delayed for months while ministers try to garner support for the offensive, the source said.
David Cameron was defeated by Ed Miliband in a Commons vote in 2013 on whether to launch strikes against Assad. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he does not support action in Syria, although his shadow chancellor, John McDonnell recently said the party's MPs would be given a free vote on the issue.
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama has said the Russian bombing campaign in Syria in support of Assad will be "only strengthening" IS. He added: "From their [Russia's] perspective, they're all terrorists. And that's a recipe for disaster."
An international coalition has cautioned Russia to immediately stop attacks on the Syrian opposition. The joint statement issued by the US, the UK, Turkey, France, Germany, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, read: "We express our deep concern with regard to the Russian military build-up in Syria and especially the attacks by the Russian Air Force on Hama, Homs and Idlib since yesterday which led to civilian casualties and did not target Da'esh."
Da'esh is an Arabic acronym used to refer to IS, primarily by the Middle East media and politicians.