Oct. 08, 2015
Russia will pay price for Syrian airstrikes, says US defence secretary
Ashton Carter predicts reprisal attacks on Russian soil over Vladimir Putin’s military campaign to prop up Bashar al-Assad’s regime
Moscow will soon start paying the price for its escalating military intervention in Syria in the form of reprisal attacks and casualties, the US defence secretary has warned, amid signs that Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies are preparing to counter the Russian move.
Ashton Carter was talking at a meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels on Thursday during which the ministers agreed to increase a Nato response force intended to move quickly to flashpoints.
There were no plans to deploy the force to Turkey, though the Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, suggested its existence alone should discourage future Russian or Syrian incursions into Turkish territory.
“We don’t have to deploy the Nato response force or the spearhead force to deliver deterrence,” Stoltenberg said. “The important thing is that any adversary of Nato will know that we are able to deploy.”
Saudi Arabia, a leading supporter of Syrian rebels fighting to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, was said by diplomats to be preparing to step up its support, having despaired of the US. Ministers from Qatar and Turkey, the Saudis’ partners in the fight against Assad, are holding talks on their next moves.
Riyadh’s anger over Vladimir Putin’s intervention was reflected in a statement by 55 leading clerics, including prominent Islamists, urging “true Muslims” to “give all moral, material, political and military” support to the fight against Assad’s army as well as Iranian and Russian forces.