Obama and Putin set to spar over Syria arms at G8

U.S. President Barack Obama will confront Russia’s Vladimir Putin at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland to discuss the Syrian crisis. (File photo: Reuters)

U.S. President Barack Obama will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday as both sides offer support to rival forces in the Syrian civil war.

This comes after Washington signaled a possible start to arming rebels battling the Syrian government.

Obama's confrontation with Putin at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland is their first private face-to-face meeting in a year.

On Sunday, Putin criticized the West’s decision to begin arming the rebels, who he said 'eat human organs.'

“I think you will not deny that one does not really need to support the people who not only kill their enemies, but open up their bodies and eat their organs,” he said.

On Thursday, the White House said it will provide military assistance to the opposition after it has been concluded that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against the Syrian people and crossed what Obama had called a “red line.”

However, both the U.S. and Russia support peace talks in Geneva between the Syrian government and the rebel coalition.

Washington covets a change of strategy from Putin, who has long backed President Bashar al-Assad, despite Obama’s constant demand that the Syrian embattled leader to cede power.

“We still continue to discuss with the Russians whether there is a way to bring together elements of the regime and the opposition to achieve a political settlement,” Ben Rhodes, a deputy U.S. national security advisor, told AFP. “There are no illusions that that’s going to be easy.”

The Syrian government troops backed by militia from the Lebanese Shiite group, Hezbollah, and Iran have scored successes against the rebels in the strategic town of Qusayr.

Observers mull that the Russian leader will not accept to change strategy in the wake of these battlefield gains.

The two-year Syrian conflict has started as a protest against Assad but morphed into a civil war. The U.N. estimates that the Syrian conflict has killed at least 95,000 people.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:40 - GMT 06:40
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