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Syria to request Russia’s military support if necessary - foreign minister

September 18, 2015, 1:42 updated at: September 18, 2015, 4:17 UTC+3 BEIRUT

Syria has been mired in civil war since 2011, with the government of President Bashar Assad fighting against many opposition factions and militant groups, such as Islamic State and the Nusra Front

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© Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

BEIRUT, September 18. /TASS/. Syria will ask Russia to send its troops to fight on the side of the Syrian army if such a need arises, Syrian Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told the state television on Thursday.

According to him, "There is no joint fighting on the ground with Russian troops, but if we felt such a need, we would study it and demand," Muallem told state-run Syrian television network. "So far the Syrian army is able (on its own) and what we need frankly is more of the ammunition and qualitative weapons to face the type of qualitative weapons of these terrorist groups," he added.

According to him, Syria will not hesitate to ask this support from Russia.

From the very beginning of the conflict Russia has been timely providing assistance to Syria, the minister said. Muallem admitted that Russia’s firm stance has had an increasing influence on the Western countries’ approaches to the Syrian crisis.

Muallem said the Syrian government would welcome any political settlement scenario proposed by Russia or Iran.

Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia was not providing additional military assistance to Syria but will offer help, if the need arises, on Damascus’ request and in full compliance with international law. "We have never made a secret from our military presence [in Syria]. Our military specialists are working there, helping the Syrian army master our armament," the foreign minister said.

"Russia is not taking any additional steps now. If required, we’ll be taking these steps in full compliance with our legislation, international law and our international obligations and, of course, exclusively at the request and with the consent of the Syrian government or other countries in the region, if the talk is about assistance or the struggle against terrorism," Lavrov said.

The conflict in Syria, started in March 2011, has reportedly claimed about 250,000 lives up until now. The violence has also forced four million Syrians to take refuge in neighbouring countries, including Jordan and Lebanon. More than 7.2 million others have been displaced within Syria, according to the United Nations.

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