Russia would ‘consider’ Syrian request for troops

Kremlin spokesman said if Syria required Russian troops, Moscow will ‘discuss and consider’ such request

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Moscow would consider any request from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to send troops, as Washington frets over an alleged Russian military buildup in the war-torn country, a spokesman said on Friday.

In response to comments by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied reports that Russian combat troops were fighting with Syrian troops, but said Syria would ask for Russia’s help if needed.

If such a request is made, it will be “discussed and considered,” Peskov said.

Amid U.S. concerns over an ongoing Russian military buildup in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday urged Washington and its allies to engage the Syrian government as a “partner” in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.

Peskov added: “But it is difficult to talk about this hypothetically.”

The Syrian foreign minister, meanwhile, said Russian troops were not yet needed.

“But until now, I believe that the Syrian army is capable and what we frankly need is more ammunition and qualitative weapons to face the qualitative armament of terrorist groups,” al-Moallem said in an interview on Syrian television broadcast late Thursday.

He said Russia has “stepped up the pace” of supplying weapons and ammunition.

On Thursday, a Syrian military source told Reuters that the Syrian military has recently started using new types of air and ground weapons supplied by Russia, underlining growing Russian support for Damascus that is alarming the United States.

In a related story, there are about 2,400 Russian nationals fighting with ISIS militants, RIA news agency quoted Sergei Smirnov, First Deputy Director of Russia’s Federal Security, as saying on Friday.

(With Reuters and AFP)

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