US President Barack Obama has said the Russian bombing campaign in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad is driving moderate opposition underground and “only strengthening” Islamic State.
Mr Obama said he rejected the Russian assertion that all armed opponents of the “brutal” Mr Assad were terrorists.
Moscow insists its air strikes – which began on Wednesday – are targeting IS.
But the Syrian opposition and others have suggested non-IS rebels are bearing the brunt of Russian attacks.
Russia said its aircraft had hit IS command centres, arms depots and military vehicles. Targets included the IS stronghold of Raqqa, but also Aleppo, Hama and Idlib – provinces with little IS presence.
“The problem here is Assad and the brutality that he’s inflicted on the Syrian people, and it has to stop,” Mr Obama said at a White House news conference.
“We’re not going to co-operate with a Russian campaign to destroy anyone who is disgusted and fed up with Assad.”
He added: “From their [Russia’s] perspective, they’re all terrorists. And that’s a recipe for disaster.”
And he warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia – and another Assad ally, Iran – faced dangers ahead.
“A military solution alone, an attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up Assad and try to pacify the population is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire. It won’t work. They will be there for a while if they don’t take a different course.”
But he conceded that neither Russia nor the US would engage in a “proxy war” because of their differences over Syria. -BBC.