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Russia’s Defense Ministry denies report on contract soldiers sent to Syria

September 18, 2015, 14:59 UTC+3 KHABAROVSK
The Gazeta.ru news portal has earlier published a journalist investigation claiming that Russia’s contract soldiers have refused to be sent to Syria
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© Mikhail Japaridze/TASS

KHABAROVSK, September 18. /TASS/. Russia’s Defense Ministry denied media reports on Friday on Russia’s contract soldiers of the Eastern military district being sent to Syria.

"The Eastern military district is surprised by attempts of correspondents of the online media outlet to link the routine activity of the forces to the events in the Middle East," the ministry’s press service said.

The relocation of military units as part of combat training events comes only within the Eastern military district and in line with the schedule, it said.

The Gazeta.ru news portal has published a journalist investigation claiming that Russia’s contract soldiers have refused to be sent to Syria. Russia’s presidential council for human rights has in its turn asked the Defence Ministry to look into the reports.

Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem on Thursday said Damascus would ask Russia to send its troops to fight on the side of the Syrian army if such a need arose. According to him, Syria will not hesitate to ask for support from Russia.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Friday Russia will consider Syria’s request to send troops if Damascus asks for it, but it is hard to talk about hypothetically.

The Pentagon earlier reported that Russia might begin preparations for the construction of an air base near the Syrian city of Latakia. First Deputy Chief of the Russian General Staff Nikolay Bogdanovsky said there are no such plans but "anything may happen."

Syria’s Tartus hosts Russian Navy’s material-technical support facility.

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