A Russian diplomat has said that Russia will continue its military supply for Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Sergey Naryshkin, the speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, acknowledged to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Mongolia that Russia had been supplying weapons to the Syrian government. He added that Russian authorities had never kept its support for the Assad regime a secret.

“We have been doing it and we will continue doing it in accordance with the norms of international law," Russia's Tass news agency quoted Naryshkin as saying. "We urge the whole international community to unite in this struggle against the Islamic State terrorism and of course, to use these forces in this fight, first of all the government army of Syria."

According to Naryshkin, Islamic State group has not managed to move further because of the Syrian army. Otherwise, the militant organization would have felt more comfortable on the Mediterranean Sea coast, he said.

Russia, unlike many of its Western counterparts, has been a strong supporter of the Syrian president in recent years. However, former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari earlier said Russia had proposed in 2012 that Assad should step down.

The Nobel peace prize laureate, involved in back-channel discussions those days, said that Western authorities had not accepted the proposal at that time. According to Ahtisaari, Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin proposed a three-point plan, according to which, Assad was supposed to lose power as a part of peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition.

“It was an opportunity lost in 2012,” The Guardian quoted Ahtisaari as saying.