Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia wants to cooperate with the US-led coalition in Syria, but cannot be part of a coalition that "has been bombing Syria without the consent of the Syrian government" and "which operates without the Security Council mandate and without the request from one of the countries on whose territories they operate," speaking from a press conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Thursday. Lavrov added that Russia is not planning to expand airstrike operations to Iraq, stating that "we were not invited, we were not asked and we are polite people as you know, we don't come if not invited." When asked about US officials' comments that the Russian airstrikes would be adding gasoline to the fire, Lavrov replied that "we know about many fires 'gasolined' by the Pentagon in the region and we believe that our position is absolutely in line with international law." The Russian Foreign Minister also commented on Western demonisation of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, saying that "Saddam Hussein hanged, is Iraq a better place? A safer place? Gaddafi murdered in front of the viewers, is Libya a better place? Now we are demonising Assad. Can we try to draw lessons," adding that "we cannot condition fighting ISIL on changing the political system in Syria. We believe that first of all fighting terrorism must be a priority."
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