Russia: France Fighting in Mali Rebels It Armed in Libya
The rebels France is battling in northern Mali are some of the very same fighters it helped arm in Libya, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Sunday.
"In Mali, France is fighting against those it armed in Libya against (Moammar) Gadhafi's regime in violation of the U.N. Security Council (arms) embargo," Lavrov said in extracts of a television interview published by Russian news agencies.
Lavrov has previously criticized French arms drops to rebels fighting Gadhafi's regime, denouncing France's interpretations of a U.N. resolution allowing the use of force to protect the civilian population.
He also claimed that other veterans of the Libyan civil war are now fighting in Syria against the regime of President Bashar Assad.
"I'm baffled by our partners' inability" to see the bigger picture, he added.
Russia, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, abstained from a March 2011 vote allowing international strikes against Gadhafi's forces, leading to the fall of his regime.
Moscow has frequently said the NATO response in Libya exceeded the resolution.
France last month intervened in Mali at the request of Bamako authorities after Islamists rebels began advancing southward towards the capital.
The rebels had taken over the north of the country following a March 2012 coup in Bamako and the region had become a haven for Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.