The Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad feared the rise of Republicans in the U.S. Congress and began preparing for a potential radical shift in U.S. foreign policy towards Syria, statements by the country’s foreign minister revealed on Thursday.

Damascus was afraid that the rise of Republicans could mount pressure on President Barack Obama to launch military strikes against the regime army’s installations in Syria and has asked Russia to speed up the delivery of a powerful air defense system, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said in an interview with Lebanon’s al-Akhbar newspaper.

Washington had pledged that air strikes against the Islamist State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) would not target Syria army targets, the foreign minister said. […]