Moscow blames 'two-faced U.S. policy' for Russian general's Syria death: RIA

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Monday that the “two-faced policy” of the United States was to blame for the death of Russian Lieutenant-General Valery Asapov in Syria, the RIA news agency quoted him as saying.

The Russian Defence Ministry said on Sunday that Asapov had been killed by Islamic State shelling near Deir al-Zor.

Moscow has complained about what it has suggested are suspiciously friendly ties between U.S.-backed militias, U.S. special forces, and Islamic State in the area, accusing Washington of trying to slow the advance of the Syrian army.

“The death of the Russian commander is the price, the bloody price, for two-faced American policy in Syria,” Ryabkov told reporters, according to RIA.

Ryabkov questioned Washington’s intention to fight Islamic State in Syria.

“The American side declares that it is interested in the elimination of IS ... but some of its actions show it is doing the opposite and that some political and geopolitical goals are more important for Washington,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying.

Earlier on Monday, American-backed Syrian militias said that Russian warplanes had struck their positions in Deir al-Zor province near a natural gas field they seized from Islamic State last week. Russia denied that.

Ryabkov also said that Russia wanted to strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency and had not violated the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, rejecting allegations made against it by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier this month.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Writing by Maria Tsvetkova; Editing by Andrew Osborn