Syria: Moscow issues ‘proxy war’ warning over US special forces

'The situation makes co-operation between the military’s more relevant,' said the Russian Foreign Minister

Alexandra Sims
Saturday 31 October 2015 09:21
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Vienna
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Vienna

Russia has raised concerns of a ‘proxy war’ developing in the Middle East following the US’s announcement it will send special forces to Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said the decision would mean military co-operation between the US and Russia would be "more relevant" than ever.

American officials said on Friday, up to 50 special operations troops will be sent to assist Kurdish and Arab forces in northern Syria.

This is the first open deployment of US military on the ground in Syria and marks a U-turn for President Barack Obama, who previously said in 2013: "I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria”.

Mr Lavrov said: “I am not sure that neither the United States nor Russia want [the conflict] to become a so-called proxy war,” Reuters reports.

“But it is obvious for me that the situation makes the task of co-operation between the military’s more relevant.”

The US said ground troops deployed to Syria will only act in a support capacity and not participate in frontline combat.

“Our role fundamentally and the strategy is to enable local forces, but that does that put US forces in harm’s way? It does, no question about it,” US Defence Secretary Ash Carter said, Reuters reported.

The decision came as diplomats representing 17 countries and the EU met in Vienna and agreed to launch a new peace attempt to gradually end Syria's long civil war

The participants in Vienna said "substantial differences remain" though they agreed it was "imperative to accelerate all diplomatic efforts to end the war".

The declaration avoided any decision on whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Assad might leave.

Any cease fire agreement resulting from the peace effort would not include the Islamic State, which controls large parts of northern Syria and has its capital there.

However, participation by Russia and Iran in peace talks could mean a more promising phase in the diplomacy as both countries have been staunch backers of Mr Assad.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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