Russian officials accused the U.S. on Thursday of siding with “terrorists” in Syria, in a sign of escalating tensions between Moscow and Washington amid the battle for the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby’s warning that the collapse of U.S.-Russian cooperation in Syria could lead to a rise in extremism and potential attacks against Russia drew Moscow’s anger. The Russian Foreign and Defense Ministries both cast it as U.S. encouragement of terror attacks on Russia.

“We can’t assess those statements as anything else but a call, a directive for action,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing. Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Kirby’s statement amounted to “the most frank confession by the U.S. side so far that the whole ‘opposition’ ostensibly fighting a ‘civil war’ in Syria is a U.S.-controlled international terrorist alliance.” READ MORE