The US should be as much a target for protests against the violence in Syria as Russia, a spokesman for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has suggested.
He told journalists that a number of foreign powers, including the UK, were involved in the brutal conflict and Russia should not be singled out.
While condemning Russian “atrocities”, he said civilians had also been killed by the US-led coalition’s bombings.
One Labour MP said the comments were “unworthy of the party”.
The row came as Russia reacted angrily to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s call for protests outside its UK embassy.
In a Commons debate on Tuesday, Mr Johnson said the evidence pointed to Russia being behind a fatal attack on an aid convoy in Aleppo and called for the International Criminal Court to investigate this and other possible warcrimes.
He questioned why the Stop The War coalition -of which Mr Corbyn is a long-time supporter – and other anti-war groups were not making their feelings known outside the Russian embassy in London, saying Russia risked becoming an international pariah if it continued with its military campaign in support of President Assad.
Responding to Mr Johnson’s comments, a Labour spokesman said talks aimed at securing a lasting ceasefire and political settlement in Syria were preferable to demonstrations.
Asked whether Mr Corbyn backed demonstrations against Russia, he added:
“Obviously, people are entitled and at complete liberty to demonstrate outside not only the Russian embassy, but all the other embassies of those intervening powers.”
People are free to protest outside the intervening powers’ embassies and there are a number of them – not just the US and Russia.
“There are multiple foreign interventions in the Syrian civil war and we’ve emphasised that there needs to be an end to that and those powers need to be part of a negotiated settlement, which is the only way to stop the conflict.”
Asked whether he was suggesting a moral equivalence between US and UK actions against so-called Islamic State and Moscow’s support for the Assad regime, the spokesman said he was not “in the business of allocating blame”.
But he added:
“The focus on Russian atrocities or Syrian army atrocities – which is absolutely correct – sometimes diverts attention from other atrocities that are taking place.
Independent assessments are that there have been very large-scale civilian casualties as a result of the US-led coalition bombing.”
There are several cases of large numbers of civilian deaths in single attacks, and there hasn’t been so much attention on those atrocities or those casualties.”
Mr Corbyn, he added, had opposed Russian intervention in the five-year conflict from the start – as he had the UK’s extension of bombing raids from Iraq to Syria last year.
“The intervention of foreign powers in the conflict has no doubt escalated and fuelled it throughout,”