Russia has denied that it is targeting civilians in Syria amid fresh accusations that Moscow's military intervention in that country has displaced more than half a million Syrians since September, while 2016 is expected to see even more Syrians flooding Europe than the record numbers seen last year. Turkish and American leaders have accused Russia of using refugees from Syria as a geopolitical tool to further undermine stability in Turkey, the European Union, and the NATO military alliance.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says Russia is in his words “behaving like a terrorist organization and forcing civilians to flee” by carrying out air strikes “without any discrimination between civilians and soldiers, or children and the elderly.”

Outspoken U.S. Senator John McCain agrees. He believes Russian President Vladimir Putin's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime is intentionally creating a fresh, destabilizing flood of refugees aimed at overwhelming Turkey and the rest of Europe.