MOSCOW, February 20 (RIA Novosti) – The United States’ public rhetoric about the need to depose Syrian President Bashar Assad does not match its statements in private, Russia's top diplomat said Thursday.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a press conference in Baghdad that in closed-door conversations the US had agreed with Russia – Damascus's main ally – that the main danger in Syria is not the actions of Assad, but the rise of terrorism.
Some of the armed opposition groups battling the Syrian government have links to international radical Islamic organizations.
The US and its allies, who have supported the opposition during the three-year conflict, have repeatedly blamed the harsh crackdown by the Assad regime for the rising death toll in the war-torn country and called for the Syrian leader to step down to facilitate the formation of a transitional government and a cessation of hostilities.
On Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry accused Russia of pouring fuel on the fire by supplying the Assad regime with arms and aid.
Moscow insists that the violence is the outcome of domestic terrorism and that Russian arms shipments are only fulfilling existing contracts.
The acrimonious comments came just days after an international peace conference brokered by the two countries failed to produce any compromise between the entrenched sides of the conflict.
Over 130,000 people have been killed and around 7 million displaced as a result of the ongoing civil war, according to UN estimates.