U.S, NATO concerned about increased Russian military activity in Syria
Providing support to Assad regime would be 'unconscionable,' White House spokesman says
NATO and the White House both expressed concern Wednesday about reports of growing Russian military activity in Syria.
"I am concerned about reports about increased Russian military presence in Syria," said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenbergduring a visit to Prague. "That will not contribute to solving the conflict.
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"I think it is important to support all efforts to find a political solution to the conflict in Syria."
The White House said it has "deep concerns" about reports that Russia may have deployed military personnel and aircraft to Syria and is closely monitoring the situation.
"Our bottom line is that we would welcome constructive Russian contributions to the counter-ISIL effort, but we've been clear that it would be unconscionable for any party, including the Russians, to provide any support to the Assad regime," White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters, using the acronym sometimes used for the militant group ISIS.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to his Russian counterpart on Wednesday and warned that Russia's activities could fan more violence and was unhelpful, a State Department spokesman said.
Spokesman John Kirby said Kerry made clear to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that if the reports were true "it could lead to greater violence and are not helpful at all" to efforts by the international community to end the conflict.
The White House has launched a review of options to help respond to the flood of Syrians fleeing the war-torn country, and Obama believes the United States has a moral responsibility to help address the refugee crisis, Schultz said.