Russia warns US against military intervention in Syria

Russia warns US against military intervention in Syria
Moscow says 'terrorists of all stripes' will take over in Syria if the US pursues regime change in the war-torn country.
2 min read
01 October, 2016
US-Russia relations have deteriorated further since the collapse of Syria's recent ceasefire [AFP]

Russia has warned the US against military action on the Syrian army, saying that regime change would lead to a power vacuum for "terrorists of all stripes".

Russian news agencies on Saturday quoted Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying that a US intervention against the Syrian army "will lead to terrible, tectonic consequences not only on the territory of this country but also in the region on the whole".

Zakhararova's statement follows recent exchanges between Washington and Moscow, in which both sides have accused one another of allowing extremism to thrive in Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the US of breaking its pledge to diffrenciate between more moderate rebel groups and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham - the group formerly known as the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front. 

US State department spokesman Mark Toner said these allegations were "absurd". According to Toner, the US has not targeted al-Nusra for some months because their fighters are currently "intermingled" with other rebel factions.

The US in turn accused Russia of driving rebels into thehands of extremists, pointing to the bombing of the UN aid convoy - which Washington holds Moscow responsible for - as an example of Russia's actions that are causing this.

"You've got a scenario now, a dynamic where, as these moderate opposition forces are under increasing pressure from the regime, that they are driven into the arms [of al-Nusra], and they have to fight side by side," he said.

US-Russian tensions over Syria have escalated since the breakdown of a ceasefire last month, with each side blaming the other for its failure.

The US has said it may cease all cooperation with Russia over Syria due to the deteriorating diplomatic situation.

Syrian government forces backed by Russian warplanes have launched a major onslaught on rebel-held parts of the northern city of Aleppo.

According to the UN, 400 civilians, including many children, have been killed in the city this week by Russian and Syrian government bombardment.

Some 250,000 people are currently trapped in the city's rebel-held east.