Russia's Lavrov says Syria's Assad is not an ally: RIA

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with Russia's RIA news agency, in Damascus, Syria in this handout picture provided by SANA on March 30, 2016. REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is not an ally for Russia to the extent Turkey is for the United States, RIA news agency quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Wednesday.

“Assad is not an ally for us. Yes, we support him in the fight against terror and in preserving the Syrian state,” he told RIA in an interview.

“But he is not an ally in the sense Turkey is an ally for the United States.”

Lavrov said Russia sees Syria peace talks in Geneva resuming this month but the right conditions had not yet been met for direct negotiations due to the “whims” of the opposition High Negotiations Committee and other countries including Turkey.

Lavrov also said a meeting of the International Syria Support Group could be convened in the coming weeks.

Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov