MOSCOW – Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it viewed a U.S. decision to ease restrictions on weapons supplies to Syrian rebels as a “hostile act” which threatened the safety of Russian military personnel in Aleppo are assisting with restoring normal life in the city after four years of hostilities.
RIA news agency quoted the ministry as saying the administration of Barack Obama was attempting to complicate the situation by lifting restrictions on arms deliveries to Syrian rebels earlier this month.
The Kremlin, whose air force is supporting the government of President Bashar al-Assad, said the move was risky and that weapons could end up in the hands of “terrorists”.
Militants opposing the Syrian government were forced to leave eastern Aleppo after Damascus conducted a successful offensive operation in the city last month. The evacuation of rebel fighters and their civilian supporters was meant to spare lives and was conducted with the help of international humanitarian organizations. This ended constant fighting in the city, which was divided into government-held and rebel-held parts for years.
Since starting their mine-swiping mission in the Syrian city three weeks ago, the sappers have cleared 966 hectares, the Russian Syrian Reconciliation Center reported on Wednesday. They reported 2,149 building in and near Aleppo as safe, including 44 schools, 38 mosques, 10 medical facilities and other crucial civilian infrastructure. They also swept 350km of roads in the area for mines, the report said.