WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama says the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkey points to an “ongoing problem” with Russia’s airstrikes in Syria.
Obama says Turkey “has a right to defend its territory and its airspace.” And he says that Russia is operating very close to the Turkish border as it goes after moderate opposition groups that are supported by Turkey and a wide range of countries.
The president says that if Russia would instead concentrate its airstrikes on the Islamic State group, then mistakes would be “less likely to occur.”
Obama is urging both Turkey and Russia to take measures “to discourage any kind of escalation” over the downing of the Russian warplane.
And Obama says that the downing of the plane underscores the importance of moving forward on efforts to find a political solution to the civil war in Syria.
The president spoke during a joint news conference with French President Francois Hollande.