- Russia FM explains Russian military instructors have been in Syria for a long time - since before the start of 2011 war
- They're instructing Syrians on the proper use of Russian-bought weapons
- This is standard commercial practice - weapons contracts buy arms as well as basic instruction
Western states know this very well, but it currently suits them to play up the Russian presence in Syria
MOSCOW, September 10 (TASS) - Russian military servicemen have been present in Syria for a long time, their mission being to instruct local personnel in using military gear in the struggle against terrorists, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday.
"Russian military personnel has been in Syria for many years," Lavrov said. "Its presence is linked with the supplies of weapons for the Syrian army, which is bearing the brunt of the war against terrorism, in particular, the Islamic State, and other extremist groups."
"They are there to help Syrians learn how to handle the hardware and to make it ready for use in the anti-terrorist struggle," Lavrov said.
"Russia is airlifting military products to Syria under the effective contracts, as well as humanitarian assistance," he said.
"Depending on what cargo this or that plane has on board we request proper permission in full compliance with international law," Lavrov remarked.
"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.
US connives at those willing to use terrorists for toppling Assad
Lavrov stressed that the United States connives at those who are willing to use the Islamic State terrorist group for ousting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
‘In my regular contacts with the US Secretary of State [John Kerry], including my yesterday’s telephone conversation, we talked about that in detail. He expressed his concern over the rumors circulated by Western media," Lavrov said.
Kerry also outlined a very strange thought that the support for [Syrian President Bashar] Assad in the anti-terror struggle was only strengthening the positions of the IS [Islamic State terrorist group] because in response the IS’ sponsors would beef up this terrorist structure with a large number of arms and money," the Russian foreign minister said.
"This is a logic that is absolutely turned upside down and is an attempt again to connive at those who use terrorists in the struggle against the unsuitable regime," Lavrov said.
"This is a huge mistake that the US-led coalition did not intend to have any interaction with Syria and even measures were not planned to inform the Syrian government about what these countries were going to do while delivering strikes against the territory which as they say are strikes against the IS positions," the Russian foreign minister said.
"Australia stated yesterday that it was joining the strikes on Syria, without even simply trying to hold any contact with Damascus. The UK, according to [Prime Minister David] Cameron, has eliminated several jihadists of British citizenship and has said that this is the realization of Britain’s inherent right to self-defense," Lavrov said.
"That is why, when unfounded accusations are addressed to us that we’re doing something illegitimate, including the accusation that we’re strengthening the IS somewhere, I would ask to look more attentively at the specific methods, which the US-led coalition is undertaking," Lavrov said.
"We’re confident that it is quite possible to coordinate all these efforts, all players in this most important anti-terror front, if double standards are rejected and work is carried out on the basis of international law through the UN Security Council’s coordinating and central role. We are ready for this," the Russian foreign minister said.