The Kremlin has strongly warned Washington against striking Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces, saying it would fuel turmoil across the entire region.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday that an attempt to topple Assad’s government “wouldn’t help a successful fight against terrorism and could plunge the region into total chaos.”
Peskov made the statement while asked to comment about an internal document in which dozens of U.S. State Department employees called for military action against Assad’s forces.
President Barack Obama called for regime change in Syria early on in the five-year conflict, but so far has only authorized strikes against the Islamic State group and other U.S.-designated terror groups in Syria.
Russia has conducted an air campaign in Syria since last September, helping Assad’s forces regain some ground.
Russia strikes US backed rebels
In a related development Russia warplanes struck at rebels battling Islamic State militants, including forces backed by the United States, in southern Syria on Thursday, a senior U.S. defence official said.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, criticized the Russian air strikes near al-Tanf and said no Russia or Syrian ground forces were in the area at the time.
“Russia’s latest actions raise serious concern about Russian intentions,” the official said.
“We will seek an explanation from Russia on why it took this action and assurances this will not happen again.”
British-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said warplanes had struck a meeting of U.S.-backed forces fighting against Islamic State in al-Tanf village, near the al-Tanf border crossing with Iraq, killing two fighters and wounding four others.
Washington has consistently refused to join forces with Russia in Syria against Islamic State ever since Moscow launched its campaign of air strikes in September last year, accusing it of acting solely to prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The United States has called on Assad to step down.
Washington Post/ Swiss Info