It is also important that Al Assad has to step down from the remains of his presidency – thanks to his disgraceful actions in letting his troops bomb and gas his own people, his willingness to use weapons of mass destruction and his murder of large numbers of Syrians.
The U.S. says Russia is fueling the conflict in Syria and with it, the country’s humanitarian crisis.
He said the administration is monitoring the situation closely.
But the administration also is boosting local forces fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and initially cast the stepped-up Russian involvement as contributing toward that anti-ISIS effort. The U.S. and Assad’s regional foes see him as part of the problem.
Germany is keen to negotiate an end to the more than four-year civil war in Syria, but France is considering launching air strikes against Islamic State militants there and Britain is ready carry out more.
A monitoring group said this meant that government-affiliated troops were no longer present in Idlib, most of which slipped from government control earlier this year.
According to an Al-Jazeera report, “between 2009 and 2011 Russia was supplying 71 percent of Syria’s military needs, everything from jets to military equipment to air defense systems”.
Mr Yaalon’s comments support concerns from the US and NATO that Russia is increasing its military presence in Syria.
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg called Russia’s presence a cause for concern. But one of the Lebanese sources told Reuters the number of Russian troops is still small. “The Russians have decided to join the war against terrorism”. Their role appears to be to protect the Russian naval facility at Tartous, on Syria’s Mediterranean coast, and provide training and expertise for the regime’s forces, which are responsible for the great majority of civilian deaths in the conflict.
“You have to take what Russia says with a grain of salt because they haven’t always been transparent and honest about their intentions”, the official added, referring to Russia’s continued denials that it is supporting separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Russia, underneath US and European for its help of separatists in Ukraine, has been on the centre of a burst of diplomatic exercise aimed toward brokering a deal to resolve the Syrian battle.
“Obviously, now I think everyone understands that removing the regime of Bashar al-Assad is not a solution”, the spokesman said.