AFP – Russia said on Monday it would not permit a no-fly zone to be implemented over Syria, following reports that plans for such a measure were being drawn up by the United States.
“We saw with the example of Libya how such a zone is introduced and how such decisions are implemented. We do not want a repeat of this in respect to the Syria conflict. I think that we will not permit in principle such a scenario,” Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters.
Russia effectively allowed Western powers led by the United States to deploy a no-fly zone over Libya in 2011 by deciding not to veto a UN Security Council resolution authorising such a move.
But Russia responded with anger when the same resolution was used to justify the bombing of ground positions of troops of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, a Moscow ally from Soviet times.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that a no-fly zone over Syria, another key Moscow ally in the Middle East, would be “illegal”.
But he did not at the time go so far as to suggest that Russia would block any UN Security Council resolution for a Syrian no-fly zone.
US media reports that Washington was preparing to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria were fuelled over the weekend by the Pentagon’s confirmation that it will keep F-16 fighters and Patriot missile interceptors in Jordan after the end of a joint military exercise there this month.
A US defence official said last week the military would also keep a unit of US Marines on amphibious ships off the Red Sea coast after consultations with Jordan.
The Wall Street Journal had earlier reported that the no-fly zone could be deployed from Jordan over the western sections of Syria.
The Russian ministry spokesman said US activities in Jordan “are also a direct violation of international law.”