The tensions between the United States and Russia over Ukraine seem to be echoing in Syria, with Moscow accusing Washington of pursuing regime change in the Levantine state.
The Russian foreign ministry sharply accused the U.S. of disregarding diplomacy as a means to resolve the Syrian crisis after Washington decided to close the Syrian embassy as well as the country's two consulates in Michigan and Texas.
“By making such a unilateral move, our American partners in essence are depriving themselves of the role of cosponsor of the process of political regulation in Syria,” said the Russian foreign ministry. Moscow also charged Washington of according a higher priority to regime change over the destruction of Syria's chemical arsenal, and support for the people of the embattled nation.
“Resolving these (issues) without direct cooperation with the Syrian government is impossible,” the statement said.
Russia and the U.S. have co-sponsored talks in Geneva to resolve the three year old crisis, but the dialogue has so far failed to achieve any tangible results.
Syria has slammed the U.S. decision as a violation of the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations.
John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, justified his government's decision on the ground that “the illegitimacy of the Assad regime is so overwhelming”.
The U.S. decision to close the Syrian diplomatic missions follows impressive gains on the ground by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian military has recaptured from the armed opposition, the city of Yabroud — a strategic asset which allows Damascus to dominate transport routes, used by its foes to funnel fighters and weapons from Lebanon. “It completes an important circle in securing the border regions between Syria and Lebanon, and also cuts the supply roads,” a Syrian military spokesman said. The major military accomplishment follows the success of the Syrian forces to clear the contiguous Qalamoun mountain zone along the Lebanese border, west of Damascus, of anti-Assad forces. The official Syrian news agency, SANA is now reporting that units of the armed forces are consolidating their hold by regaining control over Ras Al-Ein town, southwest of Yabroud.
Coinciding with its military advances, the Syrian government is continuing to destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons. Syria has removed 45.6 percent of its most lethal chemical weapons, including the entire stock of mustard gas, observed the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is steering the disarmament process. Over the past week, two shipments of the deadly arsenal have been loaded aboard Norwegian and Danish vessels in the port city of Latakia, for destruction outside Syria.