The commander of Russia’s airborne troops has told journalists that Moscow is ready to send forces into Syria to assist the Assad regime.

Colonel-General Vladimir Shamanov said on Tuesday in response to a Syrian reporter about the readiness of troops, “Of course we will execute the decisions set forth by the country’s leadership, if there is a task at hand.”

The commander noted that Russia and Syria have “long-term good relations” and that “many Syrian experts, including military, received education in the Soviet Union and in Russia”.

The Kremlin gave a non-committal response to Shamanov’s comments. Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said, “No, this issue [sending of Russian troops to Syria] has never been discussed in any way. This issue is out of the agenda.”

Asked if President Assad had ever asked Russia to send troops, President Putin’s spokesman replied, “No, this issue has never been raised.”

He said the use of Russian military aircraft in Syria “is not looked at now”.

However, Peskov added, “There ought to be no doubts that Russian airborne troops will fulfill any order from their commander-in-chief.”