Excluding Syrian army from fighting ISIS is absurd – Lavrov
The Syrian army could be a crucial force in fight against Islamic State, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, reiterating that Russia will support the Syrian government in the fight against the extremist group.
“To exclude 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 said in an interview to Russia’s Channel One TV.
Lavrov added that when there was a question of destroying chemical weapons a year ago, Assad was considered a “legitimate” president of Syria and his actions were welcomed in UN Security Council resolutions.
“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, describing that as 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.
Sometimes the US would not authorize an airstrike on a confirmed Islamic State position, sources in the US-led coalition tell Moscow. That raises questions, Lavrov says.
“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.
Lavrov said that Russia will assist Syrian government in the way it assists the governments of all countries, including the Iraqis, which face the threat of terrorism. Such help includes weapons deliveries as well as assistance of Russian specialists who help to set equipment and teach Syrian troops how to handle such equipment.
Troops loyal to the Assad government are fighting a number of enemies, the most powerful of which are Islamic State and the Al Nusra Front. Only two countries, Russia and Iran, internationally support the Syrian authorities, while all of the Arab world and particularly the Persian Gulf monarchies are backing what they call “moderate” Syrian rebel forces.
About 220,000 people have being killed during the ongoing conflict in the war-torn country which started in 2011.