WASHINGTON – Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that the Obama administration hopes Russia and Iran will play a positive role in Syria and back a political transition for the country to end the current conflict and blunt the Islamic State group.
Kerry said Russian and Iranian support for Syrian President Bashar Assad is misplaced and will only prolong the war. But he said the U.S. is ready to engage in an immediate dialogue with Russia to promote a peace agreement that would see Assad removed from power.
He said that Russia’s military buildup in Syria appears initially intended to protect its existing assets and personnel on the ground. He added, though, that Moscow’s ultimate aim in Syria is not yet clear. Russia has ferried weapons, troops and supplies to an airport near the Syrian coastal city of Latakia in what the U.S. sees as preparations for setting up an air base there.
Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, a former commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that while Putin wants to shore up Assad, his thinks Putin’s immediate objective in Syria is to solidify a corridor on the Mediterranean coast between Latakia, home to a Russian air base, and Tartus where there is a Russian naval base — the only naval base left in the Mediterranean.
Read More: Kerry says US hopes to see Russia and Iran be helpful in Syria, support political transition | Fox News.