Moscow warns the US not to 'play with fire' in Syria after battle reportedly killed hundreds of Russians

US Marine CorpsUS Marines firing a howitzer in Syria
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the US not to “play with fire” in Syria after the US reportedly killed up to 300 Russian nationals in a a massive battle.
  • The fighting in Syria has increased on all sides, with allegations of human rights violations being thrown at Syria and Turkey.
  • It’s not clear what Lavrov meant by “play with fire,” but the US has announced its intentions to shut down Syrian President Bashar Assad and Iran’s influence in the country, and signalled its willing to use force.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the US not to “play with fire” in Syria after a massive escalation in violence took place on all sides of the multi-faceted conflict earlier this month.

“The US should stop playing very dangerous games which could lead to the dismemberment of the Syrian state,” Lavrov said at a Middle East conference in Moscow on Monday, according to Bloomberg.

The US has already announced plans to keep Syria divided until UN-sanctioned elections can take place across Syria, and it’s made it clear it will respond with force when Russian, Iranian, or Syrian forces threaten that goal.

On February 7, a group of pro-government fighters, who were reportedly majority Russian military contractors, launched what the US called an “unprovoked attack” on one of its positions in eastern Syria. The US responded with airstrikes and shelling killing between 100 and 300, according to a variety of reports.

US not going anywhere as hellish fighting ramps up on all sides

Lavrov also spoke of another front in the Syrian conflict, saying that he and his allies in Iran and Syria “are seeing attempts to exploit the Kurds’ aspirations,” a reference to the US’s support for Kurdish militias in northern Syria, who aspire to a state all their own.

Turkey views the Kurdish milita as part of a terror group and there is strong popular support in the country for an operation to clear the Kurds off its borders. Allegations of human rights abuses and shocking videos depicting violence against captured, unarmed Kurds have come out of the conflict in northern Syria as the US stands by its Kurdish ally, whom they credit for defeating ISIS in the region.

Turkey has announced its intentions to start shelling the Kurdish town of Afrin in the coming days.

Also during mid-February, Israel launched a massive air campaign against Iranian targets in Syria and lost an F-16 to Syrian air defences. Syria and Russia now stand accused by an opposition figure of launching a “new holocaust” in rebel-held pockets of Syria, where some 98 people, including women and children, were reported killed on Monday.

“No words will do justice to the children killed, their mothers, their fathers and their loved ones,” UNICEF’s regional director Geert Cappalaere began a release on the Syrian government’s recent bombing campaign. UNICEF left part of the statement blank to express its frustration.

It’s unclear what “fire” Lavrov referenced in Syria, as the country has been in conflict for seven years.

What is clear is that the US has a new foreign policy direction in the country, and it isn’t afraid of fighting Iran, Syria, and Russia to keep Assad and Tehran out of power in the besieged country.

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