Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) meets with his US counterpart Barack Obama (Photo: AFP)

Agency Report

Russia has said that the United States and its allies hoped to take advantage of groups they themselves designated as terrorists to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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Specifically, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a Moscow press conference that the US avoided fighting Islamic State and the al-Qaeda-aligned al-Nusra so those groups would have forces available to weaken al-Assad’s regime.

Lavrov noted that al-Qaeda emerged amid US funding of mujahedin groups during the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s. He further said that the Islamic State arose amid the US occupation of Iraq in 2003.

Russia is the main military backer of al-Assad’s regime, its longtime ally, in the Middle Eastern country’s bloody civil war.

The US and some regional powers, including Turkey, support rebel groups seeking to overthrow the regime, which they accuse of crimes against humanity, including killing civilians.

The US bombing campaign has also repeatedly targeted the al-Qaeda-linked Fatah al-Sham Front, formerly known as the al-Nusra Front.

Lavrov expressed hope that Russia and the US would be able to work more closely on countering terrorism, particularly in Syria, after Donald Trump becomes the US president.

The Russian diplomat described terrorism as the world’s greatest threat over the past year.