Kerry speaks with Lavrov over Russian involvement in Syria

United States Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about latest reports showing Russia’s military presence in Syria

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday expressed the US’ concerns over the latest reports showing Russia increasing its military presence in Syria, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The State Department said that "the secretary made clear that if such reports were accurate, these actions could further escalate the conflict, lead to greater loss of innocent life, increase refugee flows and risk confrontation with the anti-ISIL coalition operating in Syria"

Some US officials said the temporary housing reported to be built by Russia, will allow Moscow to deploy up to 1,000 advisers or other military personnel to the airfield that serves Latakia, Syria's principal port city that is near the Assad family's ancestral home.

Speculation has been rising, pointing that Russia has effectively expanded its involvement in Syrian civil war that has so far killed 250.000 people, by supplying advanced weaponry, a raft of spare parts for existing machines, and deployment of increasing numbers of military advisers and instructors.

As an answer to those speculations, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, said that Russia is providing ‘’serious’’ training and logistical support to the Syrian army, which is his first public confirmation of Russia’s involvement in Syria’s civil war.

Putin said “to say we're ready to do this today - so far it's premature to talk about this. But we are already giving Syria quite serious help with equipment and training soldiers, with our weapons."

He also added that discussion of direct military intervention is ‘’so far premature’’, but did not reject the idea that such a step could be taken in future.

One senior Syrian regime military official, who defected in 2012, told the Telegraph that he had worked with Russian officers, but they were experts, not fighters. He also pointed out that most operation rooms were filled by Russians and defence operations were also planned by Russian experts.

"Most of the operations room and many of the defence lines are planned by Russian experts, so there are extra technical personnel now. They are mainly in Damascus,” the defector said, citing former colleagues who are still serving under the Assad government.


TRTWorld and agencies