Russia has warned that any threat against its forces in Syria will not go unanswered after a foreign-backed opposition group requested for anti-aircraft arms.
“In any case I should say that Russia will not allow anyone to threaten life of its citizens, including servicemen. Any unfriendly actions towards Russia will not be left without consequences,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news conference in Moscow on Thursday.
On Monday, Syria’s main opposition bloc, the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), called on its foreign sponsors to supply militants with man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS).
HNC spokesman Salem al-Meslet said that the group was relying on “brotherly countries and friends … to lift the embargo on sophisticated weapons imposed on the opposition.”
Touching on the issue, Zakharova expressed hope that foreign supporters of the Syria opposition “have enough common sense not to react to such demands.”
Russia ready to secure evacuations from eastern Aleppo
In another development on Thursday, Russia said that it was prepared to secure safe passage for militants and civilians from the militant-held eastern parts of Syria’s Aleppo.
“We are ready to ensure the safe withdrawal of armed rebels, the unimpeded passage of civilians to and from eastern Aleppo, as well as the delivery of humanitarian aid there,” Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoy of the Russian army’s general staff said in a televised briefing.
Rudskoy further accused militants of having planted mines in the humanitarian corridors created for the evacuation of civilians from Aleppo.
Aleppo has been divided since 2012 between government forces in the west and foreign-sponsored militants in the east. Over the past few weeks, the city has witnessed intense fighting and turned into a frontline battleground.
Russia and the US reached an agreement last month that envisioned a relative calm in Syria, increased humanitarian aid to citizens and unprecedented coordination between Moscow and Washington against terrorists. However, the week-long truce came to an end on September 19.
Damascus refused to extend the deal after the US-led coalition, which is purportedly fighting Daesh, conducted deadly airstrike on a military base run by the Syrian government near the eastern city Dayr al-Zawr.
An international meeting is set to take place in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Saturday to discuss the crisis in Syria. United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura will also attend the talks.