September 29, 2016
MOSCOW -- Russian officials accused the U.S. on Thursday of siding with “terrorists” in Syria, in a sign of escalating tensions between Moscow and Washington amid the battle for the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.
U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby’s warning that the collapse of U.S.-Russian cooperation in Syria could lead to a rise in extremism and potential attacks against Russia drew Moscow’s anger.
The Russian Foreign and Defense Ministries both cast it as U.S. encouragement of terror attacks on Russia.
“We can’t assess those statements as anything else but a call, a directive for action,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing.
Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Kirby’s statement amounted to “the most frank confession by the U.S. side so far that the whole ‘opposition’ ostensibly fighting a ‘civil war’ in Syria is a U.S.-controlled international terrorist alliance.”
“What makes Kirby’s statement particularly shocking is that the scale of direct U.S. influence on terrorists’ activity is global and reaches as far as Russia,” he said.
The remarks by Russian officials have shown a degree of mistrust and strain between Moscow and Washington after the collapse of the U.S.-Russia-brokered truce and the Syrianarmy onslaught on Aleppo backed by Russian warplanes. The growing friction makes it increasingly unlikely that the cease-fire could be revived.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that Washington is “on the verge” of ending Syria talks with Moscow because of days of deadly bombings of Aleppo by Russian and Syrian planes.