Obama warns Russia on Syria military moves

Top Stories

US President Barack Obama
US President Barack Obama

Washington - Moscow's bid to prop up Assad a big mistake: US


  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Sun 13 Sep 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 13 Sep 2015, 9:55 AM

President Barack Obama warned Russia on Friday against doubling down on its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, casting a recent buildup of Russian military equipment and personnel in Syria as an effort to prop up the embattled leader.
"The strategy they're pursuing right now of doubling down on Assad is a mistake," Obama said during a town hall with US military personnel.
Russia denies it's trying to bolster Assad and instead says its increased military activity is part of the international effort to defeat the Daesh, the terror group that has wreaked havoc in both Syria and Iraq. Earlier on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called on world powers to join his country in that pursuit, arguing that Syria's army is the most efficient force to fight the extremist network.
Read: US to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees - White House
"You cannot defeat Daesh with air strikes only," Lavrov said, a dig at Obama's strategy. "It's necessary to cooperate with ground troops and the Syrian army is the most efficient and powerful ground force to fight the Daesh."
Russia's military moves have punctured what had been a notable uptick in optimism among US officials about the prospect that Moscow was tiring of Assad, its longtime ally. Syria has been gripped by civil war for more than four years, a conflict that has claimed more than 250,000 lives and created a vacuum for extremism to thrive.
For months, US officials have been gauging Russia's willingness to help restart a political process to remove Assad from power. Obama, however, painted a grim prospect of that happening in light of Russia's new action.
"It could prevent us from arriving at the political solution that's ultimately needed to bring a peace back to Syria," he said.
Read: Two Russian aid planes land in Syria: State media
Secretary of State John Kerry has spoken twice with Lavrov this week to warn that the Russian military buildup could lead to an escalation of the bloody conflict. The crisis in Syria is also likely to be a major topic when world leaders head to the United Nations later this month for an annual gathering.
Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin are both scheduled to attend the United Nations meetings, though it's unclear whether they'll meet.
Some analysts believe Russia wants to have its military force in Syria ready for action by the time Putin arrives in New York.

More news from