Russia warns Syria strikes would cause 'outburst of terror'

AFP , Monday 9 Sep 2013

Russian foreign minister says a military solution to the Syrian crisis will lead to an outburst of terrorism in the whole Middle East region, adding that the possibility of a 'political solution remains'

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (Photo: Reuters)

Russia on Monday warned military strikes on Syria risked causing an "outburst of terrorism" in the region at a time when the Damascus regime is still ready for talks to end the conflict.

"All the more, politicians share our estimation that a military solution will lead to an outburst of terrorism both in Syria and in neighbouring countries," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks with Syrian counterpart Walid al-Muallem.

Lavrov also warned strikes would create even more refugees and added Russia "cannot not be worried by the fate of Russians living in Syria whose health and life might be put at risk."

"The possibility for a political solution remains," Lavrov said, emphasising that his Syrian counterpart has assured him at the talks in Moscow that Damascus was still "ready for peace talks".

Russia and the United States agreed in May to organise a peace conference in Geneva bringing all the sides to the negotiating table but the idea is far from materialising amid tensions between Moscow and Washington.

"We are truly ready to take part in the Geneva conference without preconditions," said Muallem, who earlier thanked Russia for its support as Syria's top ally.

"We are also ready for dialogue with all political forces who favour reestablishing peace in our country," Muallem added.

But he warned that the position would change if military strikes took place.

Lavrov reaffirmed his belief that military strikes on Syria could wreck the chances of holding the peace conference.

"Most specialists believe that if the strikes happen the chances of holding the conference would be undermined," he said.

Lavrov revealed that UN-Arab League Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi had told him on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Saint Petersburg last week that he shared this view.

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