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U.S. Says Russia Wants Direct Military Talks About Syria Buildup

Russia has proposed holding directly military talks with the United States amid increasing tensions over Russia's military build-up in Syria.

Secretary of State John Kerry said on September 16 that Moscow wanted the talks to discuss how to "deconflict" any potential risks posed by the growing Russian presence in Syria.

U.S. intelligence and news reports say Russia appears to have airlifted heavy weaponry, tanks, and a contingent of naval infantry to the Latakia airbase near the coast, which has alarmed Washington, Israel and other players in the conflict.

President Vladimir Putin on September 15 insisted the Russian personnel and supplies were for humanitarian purposes.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed that military weaponry was being sent to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime to help his troops fight "terrorists."

He said Russian special forces had also been sent to Latakia to train Syrian troops how to use the weaponry.

It wasn't immediately clear if the U.S. administration would accept Russia's offer for military talks.

Military cooperation between Moscow and Washington have been frozen since Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula last year, and the Russian-backed insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, General Nikolai Bogdanovsky, was quoted by Russain news agencies as saying that Russia did not currently have plans to establish an air base in Syria right now.

But, he was quoted as saying, "anything is possible."

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and Interfax

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