Russia calls U.S. move to better arm Syrian rebels a “hostile act”
Russia said on Tuesday that a U.S. decision to ease 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 his forces retake territory lost to rebels, some of whom are supported by the United States.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the policy change easing restrictions on weapons supplies had been set out in a new U.S. defense spending bill and that Moscow regarded the step as a hostile act.
U.S. President Barack Obama, who has been sharply critical of Russia’s intervention in Syria, signed the annual defense policy bill into law last week.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner dismissed the Russian charges, saying the administration remains opposed to providing portable anti-aircraft missiles, or MANPADS, to Syrian opposition groups.
“Our position on MANPADS has not changed. We have a very deep concern about that kind of weaponry getting into Syria,” Toner said, referring to fears that portable anti-aircraft missiles could end up in the hands of Islamist militants and be used against civilian airliners.
The National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by Obama on Dec. 23, appears designed to assuage the administration’s misgivings but imposes a new layer of congressional oversight on any presidential decision to provide them.
A provision bars the U.S. Defense Department from spending funds on MANPADS for Syrian rebel groups until the secretaries of state and defense submit a report to congressional committees explaining the decision to do so.
well it would be..the “rebels” are the enemies of russia and syria..so if you arm them better you are arming them better to fight russia and syria..how about we make a deal?..anyone who isnt syrian has to leave the country..see whats left?