Russia supplies Syria with military equipment and humanitarian aid: Lavrov
MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. AP PhotoRussia on Sept.10 denied it was ramping up its military presence in Syria, saying it was supplying its Middle Eastern ally with humanitarian aid and military equipment in accordance with existing contracts.
"Russian planes are sending to Syria both military equipment in accordance with current contracts and humanitarian aid," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters.
"We have never made our military presence (in Syria) a secret," he said, denying claims that Russia was beefing up its presence in the war-torn country.
"Russia is not taking any additional steps," Lavrov said.
US officials said this week that Russia was solidifying its foothold in Syria, sending ships, armoured personnel carriers and naval infantry to the country in an apparent effort to prop up the besieged regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Lavrov rubbished suggestions that Russia's greater involvement in Syria would throw a wrench in the plans of a Western coalition to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has taken control over swathes of Syrian territory.
"This logic is uncomprehensible to me," Russia's top diplomat said. "The Syrian army is the most effective force that can stand up to the terror threat on the ground."
Lavrov said he had discussed his country's presence in Syria with US Secretary of State John Kerry in two phone calls in the past few days.
Lavrov said his American counterpart was concerned that Russia's support for Assad would ultimately strengthen ISIL because its sponsors would be forced to ramp up their military and financial support.
"Well, that logic has been turned upside down," Lavrov said.
"Once again this is an attempt to appease those who are using terrorists in their fight against unwanted regimes."
"I believe this is a colossal mistake."