Rus­sia calls US move to arm Syr­ian rebels a ‘hos­tile act’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Rus­sia said yesterday that a US de­ci­sion to ease some re­stric­tions on arm­ing Syr­ian rebels had opened the way for de­liv­er­ies of shoul­der-fired anti-air­craft mis­siles, a move it said would di­rectly threaten Rus­sian forces in Syria. Moscow last year launched a cam­paign of air strikes in Syria to help Pres­i­dent Bashar Al-As­sad and gov­ern­ment forces in a con­flict with rebels, some of whom are sup­ported by the United States.

For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Maria Zakharova said the pol­icy change eas­ing some re­stric­tions on weapons sup­plies to rebels was set out in a new US de­fense spend­ing bill and that Moscow re­garded the step as a hos­tile act. US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama signed the an­nual de­fense pol­icy bill into law last week.

“In the ad­min­is­tra­tion of B Obama they must un­der­stand that any weapons handed over will quickly end up in the hands of ji­hadists with whom the sham ‘mod­er­ate’ op­po­si­tion have long acted jointly,” Zakharova said in a state­ment. “Such a de­ci­sion is a di­rect threat to the Rus­sian air force, to other Rus­sian mil­i­tary per­son­nel, and to our em­bassy in Syria, which has come un­der fire more than once. We there­fore view the step as a hos­tile one.” Zakharova ac­cused the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of try­ing to “put a mine” un­der the in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump by at­tempt­ing to get it to con­tinue what she called Wash­ing­ton’s “anti-Rus­sian line.” Dur­ing his elec­tion cam­paign, Trump said he was keen to try to im­prove re­la­tions with Moscow and spoke pos­i­tively about Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s lead­er­ship skills. A back-and-forth ex­change be­tween Trump and Putin over nu­clear weapons last week tested the Repub­li­can’s prom­ises to im­prove re­la­tions with Rus­sia. — Reuters

DA­M­AS­CUS: Syr­ian youths col­lect wood from rub­ble to be used for heat­ing and cook­ing, on De­cem­ber 27, 2016, in the Da­m­as­cus rebel-held east­ern sub­urb of Za­malka. — AFP

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