VILNIUS - Lithuania will not send its soldiers to Syria if no US troops remain in the Middle East country, Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis said on Thursday.
Lithuanian troops will not go to Syria either until the situation in its northern part, where Turkey is engaged in an operation against Kurdish fighters, has stabilized, he added.
"Until the situation has been stabilized, definitely not. Another thing is that the architecture of the US presence is unclear, and if there are no US troops or if there is a symbolic force, we would not see much value-added either," he told the Ziniu Radijas radio station.
Turkish troops crossed into northern Syria two weeks ago. Ankara says it wants to create a buffer zone to protect the Turkish border from Kurdish and Islamic State (IS) militants.
The US is withdrawing most of its troops from Syria, but is considering leaving a small force behind to guard oil fields and continue the fight against IS.
According to Karoblis, Lithuania mulls sending more troops to Iraq.
"We are part of the same anti-IS coalition in Iraq and are part of the current forces. We are considering a slight increase, in line with the current needs, in the deployment of soldiers to Iraq," the minister said
"Plans to send several military doctors (and) instructors together with the Nordic countries were made much earlier," he added.
Currently, six Lithuanian military instructors are training local forces in Iraq. Another seven liaison officers are performing tasks within the NATO-led international mission in Iraq.