Syria regime sees Russia increased role as game changer in war on ISIS
DAMASCUS - Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem predicted Sunday that Russia's increased involvement in his country would prove a game changer in the international campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group.
"More important than the supply of arms to Syria is Russia's participation in the fight against Daesh and Al-Nusra Front," Al-Qaeda's franchise in the country, Muallem told Russia Today television, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.
Muallem, quoted by Syrian media, said Russia's more prominent role would "wreck the plans of all those who have been plotting against Syria and also show up America's lack of a clear strategy" against the jihadists.
"Russia is making no secret of its desire to take part in the fight against terrorism, and Syria has faith in the Russian leadership," he said.
Damascus labels all those involved in the war against President Bashar al-Assad as "terrorists", including Western-backed rebels.
Muallem said Russia was working "within the framework of international law and in coordination with Syria, unlike the United States... whose actions have been ineffective".
Russian President Vladimir Putin has provided vital support to his Syrian counterpart throughout the armed revolt against Assad's regime that broke out in 2011.
Moscow argues that any military support falls in line with existing defence contracts, but reports have surfaced of secret deployments to Syria, where Moscow has a Soviet-era naval facility.
Washington, which has led an international coalition carrying out air strikes against IS in both Syria and neighbouring Iraq, has repeatedly warned Moscow that bolstering Assad will only make the situation worse.
But despite its reservations, the United States on Friday launched military talks with Russia on the four-year-old conflict that has cost more than 240,000 lives.