US criticized over military support to Syria rebels


DAMASCUS: A United States (US) pledge to step up military aid to Syrian rebels because of alleged use of chemical arms by the regime drew criticism from Damascus ally Russia and from United Nations (UN) chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday.

Syria itself dismissed the accusation as “lies.”

The UN secretary general said arming either side in the 27-month war, which has cost tens of thousands of lives, “would not be helpful”.

Ban said he has been “consistently clear that providing arms to either side would not address this current situation. There is no such military solution.”

The harder US line also dismayed Moscow, which had been working with Washington to organise a peace conference.

US data on chemical weapons was “unconvincing”, it said, warning Washington against repeating the mistake it made when invading Iraq after falsely accusing Saddam Hussein of stocking weapons of mass destruction.

Top Kremlin foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov also said the US decision to provide military aid to Syrian rebels would damage international efforts to end the conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama are to meet at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland on Monday.

The US decision prompted Sweden to warn of the danger of an arms war between rival foreign backers of the regime and the rebels.

The conflict in Syria topped the agenda in a video conference on Friday among G8 leaders ahead of next week’s summit, British and French officials said.



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