Russia is warning that any ground operation in Syria will lead to “a full-fledged, long war”.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev lashed out at US Secretary of State John Kerry for saying more ground troops could enter the conflict if peace talks fail, Reuters reports, citing Euronews TV.
“These are futile words. He should not have said that for a simple reason: if all he wants is a protracted war, he can carry out ground operations and anything else. But don’t try to frighten anyone,” Medvedev said.
On Friday, major powers agreed in Munich to a pause in combat in Syria, which killed at least 250,000 people but Kerry said that if the peace plan fails, more foreign troops could enter the conflict.
US President Barack Obama has ruled out sending US ground troops to Syria but Saudi Arabia this month offered ground forces to fight Islamic State.
“Let me reiterate that no one is interested in a new war, and a ground operation is a full-fledged, long war,” Medvedev said, according to a transcript of the interview with Euronews.
Meanwhile, Obama urged Russia on Sunday to stop bombing “moderate” rebels in Syria in support of its ally President Bashar al-Assad, a campaign seen in the West as a major obstacle to latest efforts to end the war.
Russian bombing raids directed at rebel groups are helping the Syrian army to achieve what could be its biggest victory of the war in the battle for Aleppo, the country’s largest city and commercial center before the conflict.
There is little optimism that the deal reached in Munich will do much to end a war that has lasted five years and cost 250,000 lives.
The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin and Obama had spoken by telephone and agreed to intensify cooperation to implement the Munich agreement.
But a Kremlin statement made clear Russia is committed to its campaign against Islamic State and “other terrorist organizations”, an indication that it would also target groups in western Syria where jihadists such as al Qaeda are fighting Assad in close proximity to rebels deemed moderate by the West.
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