“The NATO has decided to pull its air defense systems to Turkey despite the worsening situation in Syria,” Gen.-Col. Gerasimov told Danish General Knud Bartels, Chairman of NATO Military Committee.
Gen. Bartels assured the Russian army chief the deployment of NATO’s Patriot missiles on the Turkish soil was done on Ankara’s request in order to protect its civilians from Syrian shelling.
He said the NATO shared Russia’s concern over the Syrian crisis and vowed to keep Gen. Gerasimov posted.
A decision by the Friends of Syria to recognize the Syrian opposition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people makes the peaceful settlement of the Syrian conflict impossible, chairman of the Russian State Duma committee on international affairs Alexei Pushkov wrote on his Twitter page on Thursday.
Meeting in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh yesterday, member-states of the so-called Friends of Syria group recognized the recently-founded National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as a legitimate power body.
Between 20,000 and 40,000 people are believed to have been killed in Syria since the conflict began 20 months ago.
The Syrian government says it is confronted by well-armed local militants and foreign mercenaries.
Moscow has voiced concern that Syrian chemical weapons could fall into the hands of rebels and terrorists.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov warned Thursday of emerging terrorist hotbeds that had been sprouting throughout Syria and the Sinai Peninsula.
“Al-Qaeda extremists constitute a large part of the armed opposition forces,” he said, adding Syrian militants could and actually had already been seizing arms stockpiles.
In the long run, Mr. Bogdanov said, the same fate would befall the government’s chemical arsenal.
Voice of Russia, TASS, Interfax, RIA