AMMAN/LONDON, (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin, arriving in Britain before an international summit set to be dominated by disagreement over the U.S. decision to send weapons to Syria’s rebels, said the West must not arm fighters who eat human flesh.
In Syria, rebels fought back on Sunday against forces of President Bashar al-Assad and his Lebanese Hezbollah allies near Aleppo, where Assad has announced a campaign to recapture the rebel-held north after seizing a strategic town this month.
A huge explosion shook the Mezze military airport on the western edge of Damascus, a major base for Assad’s elite Republican Guards and a source of rocket and artillery attacks against rebellious Sunni Muslim neighborhoods.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group based in Britain with a network of observers in Syria, said it appeared that a booby-trapped car had exploded at a roadblock near the compound, killing or wounding around 20 members of Assad’s forces.
After months of deliberations, Washington decided last week to send weapons to the rebels, declaring that Assad’s forces had crossed a “red line” by using nerve gas.
The move throws the superpower’s weight behind the revolt and signals a potential turning point in global involvement in a two-year-old war that has already killed at least 93,000 people.
It has also infuriated Russia, Cold War-era ally of Syria, which has sold arms to Assad and used its veto at the U.N. Security Council to block resolutions against him.