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Saudi Arabia’s ground operation in Syria was not discussed in Munich — Lavrov

February 12, 2016, 14:09 UTC+3

Moscow expects that the agreement with the US on military cooperation in Syria reached at the Munich meeting of the ISSG will allow the creation of a joint front on the fight against terrorism

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MUNICH, February 12. /TASS/. Participants in the meeting of International Syria Support Group (ISSG) did not discuss opportunities to convince Riyadh to refuse starting a ground operation in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday.

"It was not discussed," Lavrov said in response to a relevant question on the sidelines of Munich Security Conference.

The minister however noted that Moscow expects that the agreement with the US on military cooperation in Syria reached at the Munich meeting of the ISSG will allow the creation of a joint front on the fight against terrorism.

"Our fight together with the Syrian government will continue. We expect that the principally important agreement that finally the Americans will cooperate with us in the military sphere will allow coming closer to a task that the president has set - the establishment of a truly joint front against terrorism," Lavrov said.

Russia’s top diplomat made the statement on the sidelines of the Munich security conference opening in Bavaria’s capital on Friday.

The 52nd session of the Munich security conference that brings together senior decision-makers from around the world is due to discuss the Syrian crisis, the Ukrainian conflict and the migration crisis in Europe.

At the conference Russia is represented by Lavrov and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

At the meeting in Germany’s Munich on Thursday, the participants of the ISSG, consisting of around 20 countries, including Russia and the United States, agreed to ensure ceasefire in Syria within a week. A working group co-chaired by Russia and the US will be set up to this aim that will develop "modalities" of a ceasefire.

Russia's military operation in Syria

Russia’s Aerospace Force started delivering strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist groups (both banned in Russia) on September 30, 2015. The air group initially comprised over 50 aircraft and helicopters, including Sukhoi Su-24M, Su-25SM and state-of-the-art Su-34 aircraft. They were redeployed to the Khmeimim airbase in the province of Latakia. On October 7, Moscow also involved the Russian Navy in the military operation. Four missile ships of the Caspian Flotilla fired 26 Kalibr cruise missiles (NATO codename Sizzler) at militants’ facilities in Syria.

Since 2014, the US-led coalition has also been delivering air strikes against militants in Syria and Iraq.

In mid-November, after an alleged terrorist attack on Russian passenger jet that fell in Egypt killing 224 people on board, Moscow increased the number of aircraft taking part in the operation in Syria by several dozen and involved strategic bombers in the strikes as well. Targets of the Russian aircraft include terrorists’ gasoline tankers and oil refineries. Russia’s aircraft have made thousands of sorties since the start of the operation in Syria, with over a hundred of them performed by long-range aircraft.

On November 24, a Turkish F-16 fighter brought down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber involved in Moscow’s military operation against the Islamic State (a terrorist group outlawed in Russia).  Ankara claimed the warplane violated the Turkey’s airspace. The Russian Defense Ministry said the warplane was flying over Syrian territory without violating Turkey’s airspace. The Russian president referred to the attack as a “stab in Russia’s back” and promised that the move would cause response action from Russia. Moscow deployed new S-400 air defense systems in Syria in order to protect the warplanes involved in the military operation and started arming the fighters intended to provide air support to bombers and attack aircraft in Syria with air-to-air missiles.

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