Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says US, British and French special forces are “directly” engaged in the war on Syria and operating on the ground in the crisis-stricken country.
“There are special forces on the ground in Syria from the US – they no longer deny it – the UK, France and a number of other countries,” Lavrov said in an interview to the Kazakh state broadcaster published on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website on Saturday.
“Thus, it’s not so much of a ‘proxy war,’ but rather a direct involvement in the war,” the Russian top diplomat said.
He further said the US-led coalition in Syria, which is purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri group, is “illegitimate” from the standpoint of international law and the UN Charter.
“But we are realistic and understand that we wouldn’t fight with them. So we coordinate actions at least to prevent unintended clashes,” said Lavrov.
Moscow, he added, is in “permanent dialogue” with the US General Staff commanders and communications officers “who actually lead the operation on the ground.”
Lavrov also condemned attacks on the Syrian forces and their allies in US-controlled areas, which he said take place despite repeated pledges that the US military’s presence in Syria is aimed “exclusively” at fighting terrorists.
He denounced as “absolutely irresponsible” remarks by the US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who said last week that Washington was ready to unilaterally “act” against Syria just as it did last year when it bombed a Syrian government air base over allegations of a chemical weapons attack.
In line with the US, France and the UK have also said they would consider strikes on Syria if such gas attack claims are proven.
On Monday, Syria’s envoy to the UN Bashar al-Ja’afari slammed the new US military threats, saying Haley’s comments are aimed at provoking a chemical attack by terrorists and fabricating evidence against Damascus.
The US and its allies back militants fighting to topple the Syrian government. They have been bombarding what they call Daesh positions inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.
The strikes, however, have on many occasions resulted in civilian casualties and failed to fulfill their declared aim of countering terrorism.
Russia is also militarily involved in Syria, where its air force has been providing air cover to the Syrian army’s ground operations against terrorists upon the Damascus government’s official request.