In their initial reactions to the Russian airstrikes in Syria, Syrian opposition figures harshly condemned what they characterized as "occupation" and "crimes against humanity" on the part of Russia. Those who spoke out against Russia's actions included Khaled Khoja, chairman of the Syrian National Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces; former National Coalition chairman Burhan Ghalioun; and former National Coalition figure and prominent oppositionist Dr. Kamal Al-Labwani, who denounced the Russian military intervention in Syria as the beginning of a world war against the Muslims.
Following are excerpts:
Syrian National Coalition Of Revolutionary And Opposition Forces: "Russia Has Become A Partner In The Assad Regime's War Crimes"
Following the September 30, 2015 Russian airstrikes in Syria, the National Coalition harshly condemned "the barbaric bombardment by Russian fighter jets." The statement added that "the bombardment, which caused the deaths of 40 people, and reports of Russian special forces being sent to military bases and airfields in preparation for ground action, constitute blatant aggression against the Syrian people... and strengthens conjecture that Russia has become a partner in the Assad regime's war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Syrians."
The coalition also stated that Russia was responsible for civilian deaths in the airstrikes and that "Syrians reserve the right to press charges in international [courts] for this."
National Coalition Chairman: The Russian Occupation Is Murdering Children
National Coalition chairman Khaled Khoja criticized the "Russian occupation" attacks on Twitter. The following are tweets by him as well as other Twitter users' reports on his statements:
"#Ahmad_Yamen_Malak_Rayan 4 #Syrian angels killed by Russian occupation as they consider them terrorists" (Source: Twitter.com/Khaledkhoja, September 30, 2015)
"The targeted areas in today's Russian air raid in #Homs were those areas which fought #ISIL and defeated it a year ago." (Source: Twitter.com/Khaledkhoja, September 30, 2015)
"Khoja: After four and a half years of Syrian revolution, our top priority is defending the citizens against the dual Russian/Iranian occupation." (Source: Twitter.com/SyrianCoalition, September 30, 2015)
Additionally, in an interview with the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Khoja said that following its bombardment of Syrian cities, Russia has become an "occupying force" in Syria; he stressed that this bombardment gives the National Coalition and Free Syrian Army "the right to fight Russian troops as an occupying force and to expel them from Syrian soil," due to their status as a "popular liberation movement." He went on to warn that Russia's military intervention "will add fuel to the fire" in Syria and predicted that it will "propel the terrorists to divert greater forces to combat the Russians," and that Russian military attacks in Syria will bring it to a situation that is worse than the one it faced in Afghanistan.
National Coalition Member Burhan Ghalioun: The Russians Will Encounter "Armed Resistance That Will Send Them Back Home Defeated"
National Coalition member and former Syrian National Council chairman Burhan Ghalioun also condemned Russia's military intervention in Syria. He warned: "Russia's fingers will break in Syria. The only thing that awaits them on the Syrian battlefields is armed resistance that will send them back home defeated." Putin, he said, would be held responsible for defending the Assad regime's ongoing "massacres and crimes against the Syrian people," adding that these "reach the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity."
Prominent Syrian Oppositionist Dr. Kamal Al-Labwani: "September 30 Will Go Down In History As The Beginning Of World War III"
Syrian physician and human rights activist Dr. Kamal Al-Labwani, a prominent opposition figure who split from the National Coalition in 2014 after accusing it of being corrupt and autocratic, issued a stinging condemnation of the Russian military intervention in Syria. In an article for the opposition website all4syria.info, Al-Labwani accused Russia of launching a racist war against Islam and the Muslim peoples, and calls on the Muslim countries and factions to put aside their differences and unite in combating Russian aggression in the Middle East. The following is a translation of Al-Labwani's article:
Dr. Kamal Al-Labwani (Source: aljazeera.net, September 13, 2014)
"The date of September 30 will go down in history as the beginning of World War III. The Russians, who in the past rejected any military intervention without international legitimacy and without a resolution from the United Nations, are today engaged in a blatant military intervention in Syria without any such resolution. In so doing, they are, by their own hands, wiping out all international legitimacy, and are directly waging a world war against Islam and the Muslims, and no one knows how it will end.
"We expected Russia to intervene in order to protect its interests and its role in the Middle East, but in a sensible, considered, and balanced manner that would take into account the constituent elements of the region and would respect the national, religious, and human rights of all its people. Yet Russia has preferred a bellicose intervention on a racist basis, that announces total and indiscriminate hostility to Islam and to Muslims. The majority of Muslims stand clearly against Islamist extremism and strive to be partners in civilization and in peace, and strive to treat the conditions that produced this extremism. Yet due to such hostile positions and bellicose actions, they are forced to stand as one against racist arrogance that does not distinguish the good from the bad and does not accept the existence of the other...
"The majority of Muslims are accustomed to participating in addressing the phenomenon of extremism through cooperation, in order to pull the rug out from under it and to deprive it of any excuse... [But] as long as the spiteful other does not understand and does not want to understand, and pride takes him to sin, and he decides to shed the blood of peoples with impunity and to champion the oppressors, and makes manifest his blind hatred, then it becomes the duty of the Muslims - all Muslims - to do away with the disputes among them and to hasten to fight back against this foreign savagery, whatever its justifications and propaganda may be. For war has been declared against [the Muslims] in their entirety, and it has begun to be waged, in word and in deed."
"Russia Has Chosen To Be The Foremost Enemy To The Muslims"
"Russia has chosen to be the foremost enemy to the Muslims - all the Muslims - amidst joy and disturbing silence on the part of the Western countries. It has entered a world war against Islam, deploying its military forces to annihilate them and to exile them from their historical land and cities, in alliance with the Iranian and Syrian regimes that have betrayed their peoples and their religion. It has undertaken its first operations not in a war against ISIS, but against the population and the rebels of Homs and Hama, who have suffered woes from the savagery of the regime and its militia, and who are now subjected to a worse and more ferocious savagery, namely the mafia savagery of Russia which has deviated from the path of all values and morality.
"The religion of Islam, followed by one-fifth of the world's population, will never be defeated. The Arab identity, which has borne Islam as one of its founding cultural provisions, will never be defeated. The Middle East will always belong to its historical population - and it is the foolhardy rogueries of the likes of Hitler, Khamenei, and Putin that will be defeated by it, Allah willing. This war will be the beginning of the return of its glory and pride, and it will be a prelude to a new world that will be ruled by values and truth, and not by the arrogance of force. This is the message of Islam and the mission of the Muslims, who have been charged with the obligation to fulfil this trust...
"The expected reaction from the Muslims, in accordance with their frightful popular vengeance, will be the cessation of all internecine fighting among the Muslims and among the Islamist factions, and the cessation of all military operations against ISIS and others on the part of all the Islamic countries; the severing of all diplomatic and commercial ties with the invading countries; and the classification of them as hostile countries in a state of war. Anyone who expects some other response is betting on the cowardice of the Muslims and is expecting them to forsake one another. Let that person wait and see, and it is Allah who grants success and support."
 Etilaf.org, September 30, 2015.
 Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), September 30, 2015.
 Etilaf.org, September 30, 2015.
 On Al-Labwani, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1096, ÔÇ£Prominent Syrian Oppositionist Dr. Kamal Al-Labwani Promotes Public Initiative For Cooperation and Peace with Israel,ÔÇØ May 29, 2014.
 all4syria.info, October 1, 2015.