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Russia Condemns American Support For Syrian Rebels, Backs Ally Assad

American President Barack Obama’s announcement that the U.S. will provide air cover for rebels fighting in Syria has elicited mixed responses from the international community. Russia has panned Washington’s decision, claiming that any support given to the Syrian rebel outfits only serves to further exacerbate the strife and violence in the country. Russia has asserted that America’s actions amount to interference in Syria’s internal matters and are a violation of the latter’s sovereignty.

Russia Syria Vladimir Putin Bashaar Al-Asaad

Moscow has also criticized the United States’ latest decision as a roadblock in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s efforts against fighting ISIS[1] terrorists.

Russian spokesperson Dmitry Peskov[2] was quoted in the press as having said that, “Moscow has stressed multiple times that helping Syrian opposition, let alone helping with financial or (military) technical means, would lead to a further destabilization of the situation in the country”.

Obama Authorizes Airstrikes To Protect Syrian Rebels

President Obama has given the green signal to U.S. forces to commence airstrikes and protect rebels fighting on the ground in Syria. The American troops have been instructed to shield the rebels against attacks by both ISIS and Syrian President Assad’s forces.

The rebels, trained by the U.S. military forces, have been fighting on the ground to defend the territory against ISIS extremists.

The primary reason for Washington’s involvement is to provide the troops cover against Islamic State terrorists. As part of its ongoing defensive cover, the U.S. is also invariably looking to foil any attacks from other sources, including the state’s own forces, though this is not an explicit part of its agenda.

The U.S.’s decision to recruit and train the fighters has met with criticism from the get-go, but Washington maintains that its primary agenda is to equip the Syrians to continue the battle against ISIS and other militant outfits such as the al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda’s Syrian offshoot) operating in Northern Syria.

The U.S. administration currently aims to offer extensive tactical, logistical and military support to the troops on the ground. Alistair Baskey, the National Security Council spokesman for the White House, did not disclose specific information regarding the U.S.’s mandate and rules of engagement for the mission, but shared that the purpose is to empower the U.S.-trained fighters to continue their assignment safely, through mechanisms such as “defensive fires support to protect them”.

The driving principle behind Obama’s decision to train and support military groups has been to empower local actors to act against militant extremists and existential threats without requiring formal U.S. troop deployment to the battlefields. In an attempt to minimize direct American involvement and inspire ownership, Obama launched the military training program in May. The air support has come as a successive step in the same direction.

The Russian Critique

Unsurprisingly, Russia has criticized the American action in support of the Syrian rebels. A longtime supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Russian government has blamed United States for interfering with Assad’s regime and further complicating the fight against ISIS.

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, on 3rd August 2015, spoke to the media about Russia’s displeasure at Washington’s decision to back the Syrian rebels. Mr. Lavrov was quoted as saying, “We say that this position is a...