Russia Warns US Against Targeting Syria’s Assad
Russia issued a warning to the United States on Friday, urging them not to meddle with Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The Hill reports:
Toppling Assad “wouldn’t help a successful fight against terrorism and could plunge the region into total chaos,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday, according to The Associated Press.
Russia is one of Assad’s few international backers and has been conducting airstrikes against rebels in Syria since September.
Late Thursday, The New York Times reported on an internal memo that 51 State Department diplomats have signed urging the United States to conduct military strikes against Assad’s government.
To respond to Assad’s repeated violations of a ceasefire, the diplomats called for “a judicious use of stand-off and air weapons, which would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed U.S.-led diplomatic process.”
Without a U.S. response to the ceasefire violations, the diplomats wrote, Assad will have no incentive to negotiate an end to the 5-year-old civil war.
Such a move would be a radical change in policy for President Obama, who has focused U.S. military operations in the country on targeting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The diplomats acknowledged that military action could enflame already shaky relations with Russia but said they are not “advocating for a slippery slope that ends in a military confrontation,” according to the Times.
In addition to Peskov’s warning about targeting Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that drafting a new constitution and holding new elections are the way to end the Syrian crisis. Assad has pledged to help, Putin added.
“There is nothing more democratic than elections,” he said at a Russian economic forum, according to the AP.
In the process Putin described, the opposition would work with the existing government.
“It’s necessary to think about incorporating some opposition representatives in the existing government structures,” he said.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov also warned military action against Assad could destabilize the region.
The calls for action against Assad “can’t but worry any reasonable person,” he said, according to the AP. “Who would bear responsibility for that. Or shall we see the same Hollywood-style smile as it happened already in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya?”
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