Syrian opposition leader criticises 'confused' US-led policy
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond (L) greets Syrian National Coalition President, Hadi al-Bahra, at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London, on November 10, 2014. AFP PhotoThe leader of the moderate Syrian opposition accused the US-led coalition in an interview Nov. 11 of having a "confused" strategy in Iraq and Syria that targeted jihadists but turned "a blind eye" to crimes by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"The coalition is fighting the symptom of the problem, which is Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL], without addressing the main cause, which is the regime," Syrian National Coalition President Hadi al-Bahra told The Guardian newspaper.
"People see coalition planes hitting ISIL targets but turning a blind eye to Assad's air force, which is using barrel bombs and rockets against civilian targets in Aleppo and elsewhere."
Bahra was speaking during a visit to London on Monday, during which he met with representatives of the 11 countries which support his coalition in its fight against Assad's regime.
"People feel there is a hidden agenda and cooperation between the coalition and Assad's forces because Assad assumes he has a free hand," he told the newspaper.
Bahra also accused the coalition of "completely" ignoring fighters of the rebel Free Syrian Army.
"The whole operation has been confused. Air strikes will not be able to win the battle against extremism. You have to defeat ISIL on the ground," he said.
"And you have to deal with the main cause and source of extremism, which is the regime itself."