No Plans to Send Russian Combat Troops to Syria - Lavrov
MOSCOW, March 14 (RIA Novosti) - There are no plans to send Russian combat troops to Syria if there is foreign military intervention, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, answering questions from Russian lawmakers during a “government hour” meeting at the State Duma.
“As for the question whether I consider it necessary to confront the United States in Syria… to take part in military actions – no. I believe this would be against Russia’s national interests,” Lavrov said.
According to Syrian human rights groups, President Bashar al-Assad’s violent crackdown on dissent has intensified as of late and observers have increasingly speculated about the possibility of foreign military intervention there. Russia has strongly opposed such an option, insisting that the conflict should be resolved diplomatically.
Some Republican lawmakers in the U.S. Congress have urged President Barack Obama to send troops to Syria to stop the carnage or to help oust Assad. Obama ruled out a unilateral U.S. military campaign to support the Syrian rebels, calling such an operation "much more complicated" than last year’s NATO-led military operation in Libya.
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last week that the Obama administration was consulting with other nations and considering "an array of non-lethal assistance” for Syrian rebels, adding, however, that it was unlikely that Washington would take “unilateral action right now.”
The Arab League has called for a U.N. peacekeeping mission to be sent to Syria, which has been rejected by Damascus.
Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of the Russian parliament’s upper house, said on Wednesday a Federation Council delegation would visit Syria next week for talks with both representatives of the Assad government and the country’s opposition groups.
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