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Russia can maintain its military forces in Syria on its own — Lavrov

January 17, 2017, 11:57 UTC+3

Top diplomat also believes that Russia’s decision to provide military aid to the Syrian government was right

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Russian aircraft at Hmeymim air base in Syria

Russian aircraft at Hmeymim air base in Syria

© Vadim Grishankon/Russian Defense Ministry's Press and Information Department/TASS

MOSCOW, January 17. /TASS/. Russia is capable of maintaining the operability of its naval and air task forces in Syria without the assistance of other countries, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said:

"Regarding the refueling of our ships, which deliver supplies to our air task force, the Hmeymim air base and naval maintenance base in Tartus <…>, we have settled the issue." 

"We are capable of maintaining the operability of Russian naval and air task forces [in Syria] without bothering our colleagues," Russia’s top diplomat added.

Russia currently has a ship maintenance center at Tartus. Also, Russia’s air task force is based at the Hmeymim airbase in the province of Latakia in Syria.

Russia did the right thing by agreeing to provide military assistance to Syrian authorities, Lavrov added:

"We are confident that we did the right thing when we responded positively to a request [for military aid] from the legitimate government of Syria, a UN member-country, the country whose capital could be seized by terrorists within two or three weeks." 

The minister noted that Russia helped the Syrian army liberate Aleppo. "I believe this is very important. It is important, first and foremost, for preserving Syria as a multinational and multi-religious secular state, as required by the UN Security Council’s resolution," Lavrov said.

"Those who silently watched the ISIL [former name of the Islamic State group outlawed in Russia - TASS] and other gunmen surrounding Aleppo eighteen months ago probably committed a crime, since they directly violated the UN Security Council resolution, which required to prevent turning Syria into an Islamist state," Russia’s top diplomat noted.

When asked about Russia’s casualties in Syria, Lavrov said that Moscow mourns both the Russian Armed Forces fatalities and the deaths of doctors and members of the Russian army choir who lost their lives in the plane crash on their way to Syria. "We are confident that our heroes’ names have gone down in the history of liberating Syria from terrorism," he said.

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