A joint statement released by Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States expressed concern over Russia’s military actions in Syria and said it will “only fuel more extremism and radicalization.”

The statement was published on the website of Turkey’s Foreign Ministry late Thursday.

It called on Russia to immediately cease attacks on the Syrian opposition and to focus on fighting Islamic State militants.

The U.S. and its allies fear the Russian airstrikes could strengthen Syrian President Bashar Assad rather than hitting Islamic State fighters.

Assad’s military and security forces have killed tens of thousands of Syrians opposed to his rule in a civil war that has raged for over three years.

Russia said Friday that its strikes, its first to take place outside the former Soviet Union since the Cold War ended, could last for three to four months.

Moscow has vowed to fight what it considers to be other terrorist groups operating in the region, not just the Islamic State.

“We are not supporting anyone against their own people. We fight terrorism,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a United Nations meeting in New York this week.

Washington has previously expressed concern that Russia appears to be hitting non-Islamic State areas and that this could tip the balance in favor of the Syrian president.

Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/1FKPVz9