Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the US-led strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria should be done in cooperation with the government of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
“The struggle against terrorists in the territory of Syria should be structured in cooperation with the Syrian government, which clearly stated its readiness to join it,” Lavrov said in a statement.
There have been concerns from some Western countries that striking Islamic State in Syria, who are in a conflict against Al-Assad, could strengthen the position of the president who has been described by many as a ruthless dictator.
As the US began its strikes in Syria, Washington said it had “informed” the Assad government of the impending operations, although it was not cooperating with the regime in fighting Islamic State.
“From the very beginning of the “Arab Spring” Russia urged to not leave it to extremists and to establish a united front to counter the growing terrorist threat,” Lavrov continued. “We warned against a temptation to make allies with almost anybody who proclaimed himself an enemy of Bashar Al-Assad, be it Al-Qaeda, Jabhat Al-Nusra and others seeking the change of regime, including the Islamic State, which today is the focus of our attention.”
Prior to the US military operation in Syria, discussions were held in Washington as to whether the US should arm some of the rebel factions in Syria who are fighting against the regime of Al-Assad, who is an ally of Russia.
“It is not for the first time that Russia makes a real contribution to the fight against Islamic State and other terrorist factions in the region,” Lavrov continued. “We have sent large supplies of weapons and military equipment to the governments of Iraq, Syria and other MENA countries and will continue to support their efforts to suppress terrorists.”