Syria agreed to welcome only Russian and Iranian contingents - Lavrov

A number of countries have members of their armed forces on the ground in Syria but only Russia and Iran have their contingents there upon consent from Damascus, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Aug. 26 after talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

"Many countries are represented by their military and army elements on the ground in Syria, but only the Russian and Iranian contingents are staying there upon consent from Damascus," he said. "Such is the reality."

"You certainly heard statements from Damascus that they are ready to cooperate with all who wants to fight terrorism, and it’s necessary to agree on how to best do that. I think this is a correct approach," he said.

"I think that gradually all who have their own special forces or other armed forces units on the ground in Syria, will have to realize: it’s time to choose priorities. And choosing priorities, I am convinced, they will not be able to disregard the problem of terrorism - ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusra [terrorist organizations banned in Russia]," Lavrov said.

"If someone at first planned to use the forces to weaken the regime of [Syrian President Bashar Assad], now everyone understands that this should not be done," he said.

"It was like that in Afghanistan, in Iraq, when such attempts were made. It was like that in Libya, and now it has consequences well outside the Libyan state," Lavrov said. "And the Libyan state is extremely weak."

"It seems to me pragmatism and the task to be guided by core national interests of all countries without exception will help us finally focus on the fight against the common enemy," he said.

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