“They have initiated a joint ground offensive with the Syrian regime, shattering the facade that they're there to fight ISIL [Daesh],” Carter said, using another acronym for Daesh.
“This will have consequences for Russia itself, which is rightfully fearful of attack upon Russia, and I also expect that in coming days, the Russians will begin to suffer casualties in Syria.”
Carter’s comments came after Russian jets violated Turkish air space on its border with Syria over the weekend. Moscow said Monday that its warplanes entered Turkish air space due to “bad weather conditions”.
“We've seen increasingly unprofessional behavior from Russian forces,” Carter told a news conference in Brussels following a NATO defense ministers meeting. “They violated Turkish air space, which as all of us here made clear earlier this week and strongly affirmed today here in Brussels, is NATO air space.”
Russia says its airstrikes, carried out at the invitation of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, are legal and conducted to fight terrorism.
However, NATO accused Russia of attacking the Syrian opposition and civilians and urged Moscow to focus on attacking Daesh and promote a political solution to the conflict, which has led to the deaths of 250,000 Syrians since 2011.