Middle East

Syria no-fly zone: Russia's Sergei Lavrov opposed

Syrian rebel fighters belonging to the Martyrs of Maaret al-Numan battalion leave their position after a range of shootings on 13 June 2013 in Maaret al-Numan
Image caption The US has pledged to support the Syrian opposition with military aid

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said any attempt to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria using US fighter jets and missiles operating from Jordan would violate international law.

The US has moved Patriot missiles and F-16 fighter jets to Jordan, officially as part of an annual exercise.

Russia opposes any foreign military intervention in the Syrian conflict.

The uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, which began in 2011, has left an estimated 93,000 people dead.

"There have been leaks from Western media regarding the serious consideration to create a no-fly zone over Syria through the deployment of Patriot anti-aircraft missiles and F-16 jets in Jordan," said Mr Lavrov, speaking at a joint news conference in Moscow with his Italian counterpart.

"You don't have to be a great expert to understand that this will violate international law," he said.

Mr Lavrov also said evidence presented by the US of chemical weapons use in Syria apparently did not meet reliability criteria set out by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Turning tide

The US administration said earlier this week that it would give lethal aid to the Syrian rebels in light of evidence that President Assad's forces had used chemical weapons in the civil war.

The support of the West's regional allies, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, helped the rebels after the uprising became militarised.

But the tide turned after the Syrian government turned to Moscow and Tehran for help.

Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon have also been involved in a recent government's counter-offensive that resulted in the recapture of the strategically important town of Qusair.

On Friday, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah promised the group would keep fighting in Syria "wherever needed".