Manuel Valls
Manuel VallsReuters

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Sunday urged Russia to direct airstrikes at Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists alone in Syria, as the West raises concerns Moscow will target moderate rebel groups opposed to Syria's president.

Speaking to journalists on a visit to Japan and quoted by AFP, Valls said Russia should not "get the wrong targets", echoing the words of French President Francois Hollande to Russian President Vladimir Putin at a Paris summit on Friday.

Hollande said he had "reminded President Putin that the strikes should be aimed at Daesh and only Daesh," using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

Valls also called on Russia to spare civilian lives, hitting out at President Bashar Al-Assad's sanctioning of the use of destructive weapons against his own population.

"We cannot attack civilians... Bashar's regime continues to drop barrels of petrol (barrel bombs) and chemical weapons on civilians and that is intolerable," Valls said, according to AFP, going on to state his preference for a political transition in Syria that would exclude Assad.

Russia conducted its first airstrikes in Syria last week, claiming it had been targeting ISIS in the Homs and Hama districts of the country, but an American official later said the targets were U.S.-backed "moderate" rebel groups fighting ISIS.

The British defense ministry echoed those sentiments, saying on Sunday just five percent of the Russian strikes hit Islamic State targets.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Simchat Torah and Shmini Atzeret in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)