Kerry warns Lavrov over ‘Russian military buildup’ in Syria

US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Russian military buildup of troops in Syria could escalate the years-long conflict in the Arab country.

Kerry issued the warning in a phone call to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday, according to the US State Department.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday that there are “Russian military experts in Syria who are instructing (the Syrians) on the use of the military systems being delivered” to the Syrian government.

Russia “has long been supplying arms and military equipment to Syria in accordance with bilateral contracts,” Zakharova said.

In his telephone call to Lavrov, the US secretary of state “reiterated our concern about these reports of Russian military activities, or buildup if you will, in Syria and made very clear our view that, if true and borne out, could lead to greater violence and even more instability in Syria,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington, DC.