Syria conflict: US presses Russia on military build-up

Syria conflict: US presses Russia on military build-up


US Secretary of State John Kerry has called his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in a bid to clarify the intent of Moscow’s military build-up in Syria.

Mr Kerry warned that continued support for President Bashar al-Assad “risks exacerbating and extending the conflict,” a statement said.

Russian transport aircraft have been arriving at Latakia airport

Russian transport aircraft have been arriving at Latakia airport

The US accuses Russia of boosting its military presence in Syria.

Russia – Mr Assad’s ally in the four-year civil war – says it is helping Syria fight Islamic State militants.

Moscow has increased its presence in the country just as the regime is losing ground to rebel groups.

Mr Kerry’s phone call to the Russian foreign minister is believed to be his third in the past 10 days.

The state department statement said Mr Kerry warned that Russia’s support for President Assad was “undermining our shared goal of fighting extremism if we do not also remain focused on finding a solution to the conflict in Syria via a genuine political transition”.

“Secretary Kerry also reaffirmed the US commitment to fight ISIL (Islamic State) with a coalition of more than 60 countries, of which Assad could never be a credible member, and emphasised the US would welcome a constructive Russian role in counter-ISIL efforts.”

White House spokesman Josh Earnest described Moscow’s support for President Assad as “a losing bet”.

The Russian foreign ministry said that during the call Mr Lavrov again stressed “the need to form a united front” to fight terrorist groups in Syria.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged continued military support for President Assad and urged other countries to join Russia in sending “military-technical assistance”.

He said the flow of refugees to Europe would have been “even bigger” without Russian support for Syria’s government.

President Putin said on Tuesday: “We support the government of Syria… in countering the terrorist aggression. We provide and will continue to provide it with the necessary military technical assistance. And we urge other countries to join us.”

A Pentagon spokesman said on Monday that a steady flow of people and equipment near the north-western city of Latakia suggested Moscow was planning to establish a “forward air operating base” at an airport there.

Last week, officials in Washington quoted by Reuters said Moscow had sent more aircraft and two tank landing ships to Russia’s naval base in the Syrian coastal city of Tartus.

The war between President Assad’s regime and various rebel groups has so far killed at least 240,000 people and displaced millions. – BBC Report



Comments are closed.