Russia Says U.S. Buildup Violates Syrian Sovereignty

Moscow, Russia said Friday that U.S. plans to increase the number of its military personnel in Syria was illegal and violated the sovereignty of the war-torn country.

“It is impossible for us to be not worried that such an action by the United States of America is being carried out without the agreement of the legal government of Syria,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

“It is a violation of sovereignty,” the state news agency Tass reported him as saying.

Earlier this week, U.S. President Barack Obama said Washington would boost the number of special operations forces in Syria to about 300 from 50. They will advise and assist local forces battling the extremist group Islamic State, he said.

Since last September, Russian forces, mainly warplanes, have carried out attacks against rebel groups fighting to force Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power, after Damascus asked for Moscow’s military help.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a drawdown of Russian forces in Syria last month, but Moscow says it has kept some personnel and aircraft in place to target Islamic State and Nusra Front, two militant groups not included in the cease-fire brokered by Russia and the U.S. that went into effect Feb. 27.

The number of Russian troops currently in the country is unknown, but U.S. officials have said Russia is moving Russian artillery units into northern Syria.

Mr. Ryabkov also said Russia and the U.S. were in contact over the situation in the country following pleas from the United Nations special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, to salvage the cease-fire, amid escalation fighting in and around the northern city of Aleppo.

Source- Wall Street Journal

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