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US weapon supplies to Syrian militants can backfire — Russian FM

Moscow “invariably advocates peace settlement of the internal armed conflict in Syria calling for prompt renewal of negotiations in Geneva”

MOSCOW, May 30. /ITAR-TASS/. US weapon supplies to Syrian militants will escalate the conflict and can backfire, Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

“At the time of the presidential election campaign’s final stage, illegal armed groups have sharply intensified terrorist activities aimed at escalating tensions and intimidating civilians ahead of the election on June 3,” goes the statement.

Terrorists launched shell and rocket attacks on the local rallies in support of the candidates, the foreign ministry. The tragedy in the city of Daraa, where a mortar shell hit a crowd, killing 39 and injuring 205, was the most outrageous of them.

Random mortar shelling of residential areas in Syria continues, says the statement, the special target being areas densely populated by ethnic and confessional minorities. A car bomb explosion in the Alawite neighborhood of Homs, Zahra, killed 12 and injured 40. The Christian city of Mharda was hit by rocket artillery.

Tensions between the government forces and armed opposition persist, the ministry said. The Syrian regular army has advanced in the strategically important Damascus suburb, Mliha, near the international airport, and achieved some success in the fighting for control of Aleppo where they lifted the more than a year-long siege of the central prison. Meanwhile, illegal groups press on in the governorates of Idlib and Daraa.

“Fighting the terrorist groups, where jihadists from all over the world play the key role, the Syrian government offers a chance to the people who became militants by mistake and have not committed grave crimes to get back to normal life,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry. The list of places, where the government has called truce, has been recently replenished by several Damascus neighbourhoods. Truce is expected soon in the last stronghold of the opposition forces in Waar, Homs.

The ministry is “seriously concerned about the media reports the US Administration is intending to boost military supplies to 'right' militants of the Syrian armed opposition”. “Many publications confirm supplies of 'lethal military aid' to the opposition, though Washington has recently mentioned only non-lethal aid for Bashar Assad’s opponents,” goes the comment.

The Russian Foreign Ministry believes this will escalate “the sanguinary conflict in Syria”.

“Besides, modern weapon supplies to “verified militants” will in all likelihood fall into the hands of terrorists who will be able to use it in any corner of the world, in particular against the interests of their foreign sponsor,” goes the comment.

In this connection, the ministry pointed to a report in The New York Times. The story goes that last August, a local group in Tripoli easily seized a well-guarded government base that served as a storage for the US-supplied military products. Similar seizures of warehouses with the US aid for the so-called “moderates” by Islamists of the Free Syrian Army took place in Syria last January, goes the ministry’s comment.

Moscow “invariably advocates peace settlement of the internal armed conflict in Syria calling for prompt renewal of negotiations in Geneva”.