A spokesman for Vladimir Putin says Russia doesn't have combat troops in Syria right now but Moscow will consider sending troops if Damascus were to ask. Amid concerns over an ongoing Russian military buildup in Syria, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem denied reports yesterday that Russian combat troops are fighting in Syria but said Syria would not hesitate to ask for Russia's help if needed. The Putin spokesman told Russian news agencies today that if such a request is made, it will be "discussed and considered," but he insisted the question is purely hypothetical at this stage.
Yesterday, Russia urged the US and its allies to engage the Syrian government as a "partner" in the fight against ISIS. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq should coordinate its action with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government in conformity with international law. "There is no reason to evade cooperation with the Syrian leadership, which confronts that terror threat," he said. A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman says Moscow is happy to talk to Washington about its military cooperation with Syria, "so that military experts on both sides could discuss the relevant issues." (Read more Russia stories.)