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Russia to continue weapons supplies to Syria for combating terrorism — FM

September 11, 2015, 13:23 UTC+3 MOSCOW

According to Sergey Lavrov, the Syrian army is the most effective and powerful ground force for fighting against Islamic State

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov listens to a question during a news conference

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov listens to a question during a news conference

© AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev

MOSCOW, September 11. /TASS/. Russia will continue delivering military equipment to Syria for combating terrorist groups, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a news conference on Friday.

"Our military servicemen and military experts are staying there [in Syria] to service the Russian equipment and help the Syrian army to use that equipment," the minister said. "We’ll continue to supply that equipment to the Syrian state in order to ensure its due defense capability in countering the terrorist threat," Lavrov said.

Referring to Russia’s forthcoming naval maneuvers in the Mediterranean, Lavrov said he had no information on their schedule. "But it’s a well-known fact that they [maneuvers] are regularly conducted there by our Navy," the minister added. "The drills are conducted in full conformity with the relevant international law norms," Lavrov said.

The diplomat noted that Russia calls on members of the international coalition against Islamic State to start cooperating with Damascus and the Syrian army.

"We initially called for collective work based on international law in different spheres, and especially in such a complicated sphere as fighting against terrorism," Lavrov said. "The coalition was created unilaterally, without UN Security Council’s approval, without coordination with a key country for solving anti-terrorist issues - Syria. We already warned back then that such approach will create difficulties, complications, and we talked about the necessity to coordinate actions of all interested parties, including the Syrian government," he added.

Such coordination is vital "from the point of view of effectiveness of the fight against terrorism," Lavrov continued. "ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - former name of the militant organization] cannot be defeated only by airstrikes. Cooperation with ground forces is needed, and Syrian army is the most effective and powerful ground force for fighting against ISIL," Lavrov said. "We continue calling on coalition members to cooperate with Syrian government, with Syrian army," the foreign minister noted. "However, coordination is also important to prevent different unintentional incidents. We talked about it from the very start of operations of US-led coalition," the foreign minister noted.

"We still - better late than never - call on coalition members to start cooperating with the Syrian government, Syrian army," Lavrov said. According to the top diplomat, ministers of several European countries speak in favor of cooperating with the government of Bashar Assad because they "understand counter-productivity of the current situation and understand that they need to set priorities straight."

"If the priority is fighting against terrorism, then such tactical considerations as regime change in Syria should be put aside," Lavrov added. He noted that previous attempts to change regimes in the region, in particular in Iraq and Libya, "led to an unprecedented emergence of terrorist threat and allowed ISIL to become the sinister structure that we can now witness in the region," the minister said.

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