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Russia Will Consider Sending Troops to Syria if Asked

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskova speaks at a round table to mark President Vladimir Putin’s 15 years in office, in Moscow, March 31, 2015.

Russia says it would consider sending troops to fight in Syria if the Syrian government asks for them.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday any such request would be discussed and evaluated.

His comments come amid ongoing U.S. concerns about the Russian military buildup in Syria. Russia has sent tanks, military advisers, technicians and security guards there, apparently to create an air base near the coastal town of Latakia, a stronghold of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about Russia's increased involvement in Syria. Kerry said he told Lavrov that Russia's continued support for Assad risks escalating the conflict and undermining a shared U.S.-Russian goal of fighting extremism.

Russia, a longtime Assad ally, says its focus in Syria is defeating the Islamic State militant group.