Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday claimed that United States support for rebel forces in Syria is “illegal and ineffective”, Reuters reported.
Speaking in an interview with U.S. networks recorded ahead of a meeting with President Barack Obama, Putin claimed American-trained rebels were leaving to join the Islamic State (ISIS) with weapons supplied by Washington.
The Russian President also said that his ally, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, deserved international support as he was fighting terrorist organizations.
Obama and Putin are scheduled to talk on Monday after Putin addresses the United Nations, although White House and Kremlin officials have disagreed on what the two leaders will discuss and even who initiated the meeting.
"In my opinion, provision of military support to illegal structures runs counter to the principles of modern international law and the United Nations Charter," he was quoted as having said in an excerpt of an interview with CBS and PBS released by the Kremlin.
Russia has stepped up its military involvement in Syria in recent weeks, with U.S. officials accusing Moscow of sending combat aircraft, tanks and other equipment to help the Syrian army.
The United States was so concerned about reports of Russia’s increased presence in Syria that Secretary of State John Kerry phoned his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov a total of three times in ten days to discuss the situation.
Russia's sudden military build-up this month in support of Assad and a refugee crisis that has spilled over from the region into Europe have lent new urgency to attempts to resolve the Syria conflict, noted Reuters.
U.S.-Russian relations have slumped to a post-Cold War low over the Ukraine crisis, though the two sides shares concerns about the threat posed by Islamic State, while disagreeing on the approach.
Putin says Damascus should be included in international efforts to fight ISIS, a demand the United States rejects, and he criticized U.S. plans to train up to 5,400 Syrian rebels to fight the jihadist group.
"It turns out that only 60 of these fighters have been properly trained, and as few as four or five people actually carry weapons," he said. "The rest of them have deserted with the American weapons to join ISIS."
Putin also that said Russia's support for the Assad government was based on the UN Charter.
"We have been providing assistance to legitimate government entities only," he said, according to Reuters. "As of today it has taken the form of weapons supplies to the Syrian government, personnel training and humanitarian aid to the Syrian people."
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Sukkot in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)