Advertisement

NATO's Gen. Breedlove: Syrian refugees are weapons against Europe

By
Ed Adamczyk
Gen. Philip Breedlove told the U.S. Armed Services Committee Tuesday Russia and Syria were deliberately targeting Syrian civilians to provoke mass migration to Europe, stretching European resources. Photo by U.S. Air Force
Gen. Philip Breedlove told the U.S. Armed Services Committee Tuesday Russia and Syria were deliberately targeting Syrian civilians to provoke mass migration to Europe, stretching European resources. Photo by U.S. Air Force

WASHINGTON, March 2 (UPI) -- Russia is using Syrian refugees as a war weapon to weaken Europe, Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO's top commander, told a U.S. Senate committee.

"These indiscriminate weapons used by both [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad, and the non-precision use of weapons by the Russian forces -- I can't find any other reason for them other than to cause refugees to be on the move and make them someone else's problem ...Together, Russia and the Assad regime are deliberately weaponizing migration in an attempt to overwhelm European structures and break European resolve," Breedlove told the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington Tuesday.

Advertisement

He referred to Russia's air campaign, ostensibly fighting the Islamic State but increasingly directed at civilian targets, as evidence Syria and Russia are initiating mass migrations that strain European resources.

A Syrian cease-fire, signed by 100 rebel groups, went into effect Friday and is holding, despite several violations. The situation remains tenuous, State Department spokesman John Kirby noted.

RELATED Riots in France as migrant camps get demolished

The five year-long civil war in Syria has cost more than 270,000 lives and has led to mass migration, largely to Europe.

Advertisement

Breedlove was also critical of Russia's threats against its western neighbors, including several NATO countries, its militarization of its Arctic regions and the growth of its expeditionary forces, as seen in Ukraine and Syria.

"Russia has chosen to be an adversary and poses a long-term existential threat to the United States and to our European allies and partners," he told the Senate committee.

RELATED Tens of thousands of Syrian migrants gather at Turkish border to escape civil war fighting

RELATED Merkel under pressure to tamp down on refugees

Latest Headlines