Posted: Mar 1, 2013 4:11 AM
Updated: Mar 1, 2013 4:12 AM
MOSCOW (AP) Russia has condemned the decision by Western nations to support the Syrian opposition in its battle to oust President Bashar Assad.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said that moves announced in Rome on Thursday "in spirit and in letter directly encourage extremists to seize power by force, despite the inevitable sufferings of ordinary Syrians that entails."
The Obama administration announced an additional $60 million in assistance to Syria's political opposition Thursday and, in a first, said it would provide non-lethal aid directly to Syrian rebels.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and senior officials from 11 other countries said they wanted to "change the balance of power on the ground."
The U.N. says over 70,000 people have died in the conflict, during which Russia has shielded Assad's government from sanctions.