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US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter arrived in Madrid on Sunday, beginning a European tour amid alarm over Russian bombardments in Syria and the refugee crisis sparked by the conflict. The five-day trip to Spain, Italy, Britain and a NATO ministerial summit in Brussels is intended to recognise the work of ally nations as they scramble to tackle the refugee crisis as well as respond to Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine. The tour comes at a fraught time for Carter, who started in the Pentagon's top job in February and who faces pressure at home over Syria and a simmering scandal involving military officials allegedly cherry-picking intelligence.
By William James MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Russia is engaged in "classic asymmetric warfare" in Syria by using its military clout to prop up President Bashar al-Assad while saying it is attacking Islamic State militants, Britain's foreign minister said on Sunday. Russia last week began striking targets in Syria - a dramatic escalation of foreign involvement in the civil war which has been criticised by the West as an attempt to prop up Assad, rather than its purported aim of attacking Islamic State.