Russia said the U.S., in deciding to arm Syrian rebels, is in danger of repeating the mistake it made in Afghanistan in the 1980s when it backed religious extremists who later formed the al-Qaeda terrorist network.
The U.S. move is a "disaster" for efforts to end Syria's two-year civil war, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview in St. Petersburg. "Al-Qaeda was basically born from the Mujahedeen movement financed by the United States when the Soviets were in Afghanistan. Then al-Qaeda boomeranged."
Russia and the U.S. are on a collision course after President Barack Obama's administration said last week it will supply weapons to Syria's opposition in the wake of battlefield advances by President Bashar al-Assad's forces. The two former Cold War foes, which are now arming opposing sides in Syria, are struggling to keep alive an initiative to stage a peace conference and end a conflict that has killed more than 90,000.