US criticises ‘odd’ Russian welcome for Assad

White House criticises Russian President Putin over ‘red carpet welcome’ for Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

White House spokesman Eric Schultz speaks to reporters during a press briefing in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts as US Barack Obama continues his vacation on the island August 22, 2014.

The United States on Thursday has harshly condemned Russia for welcoming Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad who visited Moscow in his first abroad trip since the conflict broke out in Syria in 2011.

"We view the red carpet welcome for Assad, who has used chemical weapons against his own people, at odds with the stated goal by the Russians for a political transition in Syria," Eric Schultz, the White House spokesman said.

On Tuesday, Assad arrived in Moscow in a surprise visit to thank Russian President Vladimir Putin for his military support in the Syrian conflict which has left more than 250,000 people dead since it started in 2011.

On September 30 Russian fighter jets began conducting air strikes in Syria on the side of the Assad regime, in what Russia described as a common sense move aimed at fighting "international terrorism" in the face of what it has called ineffective action from Washington.

Russia originally said its air strikes would targeting ISIS positions in the country. However, most of the strikes have targeted Syrian opposition-held territories rather than ISIS.

The Russian action in Syria has been strongly protested by Turkey and NATO, as well as the US which leads an international coalition of air strikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

The US has opposed the Russian intervention in Syria, saying that helping Assad would only only serve to lengthen the civil war.

However, Putin said he hopes a "long-term resolution can be achieved on the basis of a political process with the participation of all political forces, ethnic and religious groups."

Assad, on the other hand, expressed his gratitude for Moscow’s military support, saying it has stopped “terrorism becoming more widespread and harmful” in Syria.

TRTWorld and agencies