‘West arming Syrian rebels who eat human flesh’
In Syria, rebels fought back on Sunday against forces of President Bashar al-Assad and his Lebanese Hezbollah allies near Aleppo, where Assad has announced a campaign to recapture the rebel-held north after seizing a strategic town this month.
After months of deliberations, Washington decided last week to send weapons to the rebels, declaring that Assad’s forces had crossed a ‘red line’ by using nerve gas.
The move throws the superpower’s weight behind the revolt and signals a potential turning point in global involvement in a two-year-old war that has already killed at least 93,000 people.
It has also infuriated Russia, Cold War-era ally of Syria, which has sold arms to Assad and used its veto at the UN Security Council to block resolutions against him.
Russia has dismissed the US evidence that Assad’s forces used nerve gas. The White House says President Barack Obama will try to lobby Putin to drop his support for Assad during this week’s G8 summit hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron. After meeting Cameron in London, Putin said Russia wanted to create the conditions for a resolution of the conflict.
‘One does not really need to support the people who not only kill their enemies, but open up their bodies, eat their intestines in front of the public and cameras,’ Putin said. ‘Are these the people you want to support? Are they the ones you want to supply with weapons? Then this probably has little relation to the humanitarian values preached in Europe for hundreds of years.’
The incident Putin referred to was most likely that of a rebel commander filmed last month cutting into the torso of a dead soldier and biting into a piece of one of his organs.
Both sides have been accused of atrocities in the conflict. The United States and other countries that aid the rebels say one of the reasons for doing so is to support mainstream opposition groups and reduce the influence of extremists.