Russia’s foreign minister said on Sunday that Moscow will continue backing the Syrian military, and argued that it is currently the most effective military power capable of defeating the Islamic State terror group.
“To exclude the Syrian army from fighting Islamic State [formerly ISIS/ISIL] is absurd… Syrian armed forces will be the most effective military force on the ground,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by the state-sponsored Russia Today outlet,
According to a report in the Daily Beast, the Russian support extends to shipment of advanced armored personnel carriers and also to deployment of Russian soldiers on the ground in Syria.
Lavrov criticized the attitude of Western countries toward the regime of embattled President Bashar Assad, who he said was treated as “legitimate” when world powers debated with Damascus the fate of the country’s arsenal of chemical weapons.
“A year passed and he [Assad] stopped being legitimate, because the threat is now not chemical weapons or substance but a terror menace,” Lavrov said. He called the shift in attitude an “ideologized” approach.
“All our western partners, without any exceptions, tell us that they clearly understand what is the main threat in the Middle East and North Africa. And this [threat] is not Assad’s regime, but Islamic State,” he said.
The foreign minister said Russia’s support of Syria’s state army is not unusual and that the country supports all countries facing the threat of terrorism.
He also hinted that coalition forces, led by the United States, may be driving another agenda other than defeating Islamic State: “I hope that I won’t fail anyone, saying that some of our colleagues from the coalition states say that they receive information where exactly, on which positions the Islamic State troops are located, but the commander of the coalition [of course, from the US] doesn’t approve the strike.”
“I could suspect that apart from the claimed purpose – fighting Islamic State – there is something else [as the aim] of the coalition, ” he added.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin conceded that Moscow was assisting the Syrian army with equipment, weapons and advisers.