19:58 GMT +316 December 2018
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    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and US Secretary of State John Kerry

    Russia's Military Presence in Syria Could Further Escalate Conflict - Kerry

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    During a phone talk with Sergei Lavrov, John Kerry made it clear that Russia's alleged military build-up in Syria could cause the escalation of conflict in the country.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Russia's alleged military build-up in Syria could lead to the escalation of conflict in the Middle Eastern country, US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a phone talk with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov Friday.

    On Monday, Israeli news outlet Ynet reported, citing anonymous Western officials, that Russia was sending fighter jets to Syria to conduct airstrikes against ISIL positions. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov later refuted the claims.

    "The Secretary called Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov this morning to discuss Syria, including U.S. concerns about reports suggesting an imminent enhanced Russian military build-up there," the statement on the US Department of State website read.

    According to the statement, Kerry "made clear that if such reports were accurate, these actions could further escalate the conflict, lead to greater loss of innocent life, increase refugee flows and risk confrontation with the anti-ISIL [IS] Coalition operating in Syria."

    The two top diplomats agreed to continue discussions of the Syrian issue during the UN General Assembly meeting in New York later this month.

    Syria has been engulfed in a civil war since 2011. Apart from battling the so-called moderate opposition, Syrian government forces are fighting against IS militants and the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.

    A US-led coalition of some 60 nations has been fighting the positions of IS militants in Syria and Iraq since 2014. In Syria, the operation is being conducted without the permission of Damascus.

    In June, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow would support the formation of an anti-terrorism coalition if Syria considered it appropriate and feasible.


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    Daesh, escalation, Russia, Syria, United States
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