Russia says it wants Syria to prepare for parliamentary and presidential elections, as Moscow intensified its drive to convert its increased clout with Damascus into a political settlement. Gavino Garay reports.
++EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: RESENDING TO REFLECT NO ACCESS RUSSIA RESTRICTIONS++ Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the Kremlin wants to see Syria get ready for parliamentary and presidential elections. The announcement comes nearly one month after Russia launched air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government. Lavrov also said Russia would be willing to help Western-backed Free Syrian Army rebels with Russian air support, if it knew where they were. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SERGEI LAVROV, SAYING: "We are ready to give air support to patriotic opposition as well, including the so-called Free Syrian Army, but we need to get in contact with the people who will have the authority to represent certain armed groups that are fighting against terrorism among other things." Moscow and Washington have butted heads over a political transition of power in Syria, with Washington saying a solution must see Assad removed from power. But the latest move could be a sign that Russia is beginning to use it's increased influence in Damascus to reach a political settlement.