Russia slams US diplomats' calls to strike Syria's Assad

17th June 2016, Comments 0 comments

Russia on Friday condemned a US diplomatic cable calling for military strikes against the Syrian government, as Washington again accused Moscow of bombing US-backed rebels in the war-torn country.

Russian officials criticised the so-called "dissent channel" cable signed by a group of US diplomats urging strikes against Bashar al-Assad's regime, which it accuses of persistently violating a shaky ceasefire aimed at bringing an end to the conflict.

"Of course this is at odds with (UN) resolutions," Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, said of the calls in comments to Interfax news agency.

"We need to negotiate and reach a political resolution on the basis of international law, which was agreed upon at the UN Security Council," he said.

The cable calls for "a judicious use of stand-off and air weapons", according to the New York Times, laying bare stark divisions in Washington policy circles on the Syrian conflict.

Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement that the US diplomatic cable could "not but cause concern to any sane person."

Moscow in September launched a bombing campaign in the war-torn country to support long-time ally Assad.

The West has accused Russian forces of targeting the opposition with air strikes in an effort to prop up Assad's troops.

A US official in Washington who requested anonymity on Thursday accused Russia of bombing US-backed fighters in southern Syria.

The Russian defence ministry said in a statement released late Thursday that it carried out no air strikes on groups that had cooperated with Russia or the United States in the previous 24 hours.

Washington and Moscow have publicly vowed to work together to persuade Assad to negotiate a settlement with his opponents, but the US has frequently expressed exasperation about what it sees as Russia's less than full commitment.

© 2016 AFP

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