G20 summit: Russia Syria action 'raising refugee numbers'

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Russian president Vladimir Putin arrives for a G20 meeting in TurkeyImage source, EPA
Image caption,
President Putin is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Russian military action in Syria is increasing the number of refugees trying to reach Europe, European Council President Donald Tusk has said.

Speaking at a G20 summit in Turkey, Mr Tusk said Russia should focus more on Islamic State (IS) militants and not against "moderate Syrian opposition".

Russia has been carrying out air strikes it says target IS.

But many in the west fear the real aim is to keep Moscow's ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in power.

The G20 summit of world leaders is primarily focused on economic matters, but the two-day meeting in the coastal province of Antalya has been overshadowed by the deadly attacks in Paris.

IS said it was behind the series of assaults that left 129 dead, and Mr Tusk said cooperation between the US and Russia in their action against IS in Syria was "crucial".

'New wave of refugees'

"We need not only more cooperation, but also more good will, especially from Russian action on the ground in Syria," he said.

"It must be focused more on Islamic State and not, because we cannot accept it, against the moderate Syrian opposition."

He warned the Russian operations would "only result (in) a new wave of refugees. And we have some signals that in fact it's started.''

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin shake hands at a G20 meeting

IS controls large areas of Syria and Iraq, two countries that have been major contributors to the unprecedented number of refugees arriving in Europe this year.

US President Barack Obama said the killings in Paris were an "attack on the civilised world", pledging to "redouble" efforts to bring about an end to Syria's civil war.

He shared a handshake with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who he has differed with on the way to resolve the conflict. The US and its allies insist Mr Assad must stand down as part of a political solution to the crisis.

The two men have been holding talks on the sidelines of the G20, television pictures showed.