MOSCOW, June 3 (Itar-Tass) - Having blocked the British draft statement on events in Al-Qusayr in the U.N. Security Council, Russia remains committed to a peaceful settlement in Syria, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.
Al-Qusayr and the surrounding area have long been noted for high activity of illegal armed opposition groups.
“Since February of this year, the town has been under full control of rebels who drove out practically all Christians and Alawites, turned the local church into their headquarters and made forays into neighbouring villages, populated mainly by Shiites, to rob and plunder,” Lukashevich said on Monday, June 3. “A so-called Islamic council was created, which acted in close coordination with the terrorist organisation Jabhat al-Nusra,” he added.
The Syrian Armed Forces have been carrying out a large-scale operation in the Al-Qusayr area since April to restore order and destroy the rebels. They provided safe passage for peaceful citizens.
“Since May 19, the fighting has moved to the streets. Rebels have sustained heavy losses but continue to put up fierce resistance, understanding that the loss of Al-Qusayr would undermine their illegal arms and mercenary trafficking operations,” the spokesperson said.
“In this situation, Great Britain initiated a draft statement of the Security Council chairman in the U.N. Security Council. Basically, it demanded that the Syrian military cease fire unilaterally and let the bandits encircled in several city districts get out,” he said.
“Russia could not agree with this position. We stated our disagreement and the draft did not pass,” the spokesperson added.
“The proposal that the international community should raise its voice at a time when the Syrian army is finishing a counter-terrorist operation against insurgents who have been terrorising the population of the border-lying Syrian town for several months can hardly be called timely,” Lukashevich sad.
He noted that “no one drew attention to the suffering of Al-Qusayr’s residents” during this time.
Fierce fighting continues in Al-Qusayr, 10 kilometres from the Lebanese border. According to Al-Watan, hundreds of mercenaries were killed there over the past 48 hours. A Syrian military source denied an Istanbul opposition statement that the insurgents in the town surrounded by the army had received reinforcement from other parts of the country. To prove his point, he said that the rebels heading to Al-Qusayr from Talbiseh, 10 kilometres from Homs, had been destroyed.
Lukashevich stressed that Russia’s approach to the British draft statement of the U.N. Security Council chairman “does not change Russia’s position of principle in favour of the speediest stop to any violence in Syria and suffering of civilians, and a transition to a peaceful political settlement not on a unilateral basis but as provided for in the Geneva Communique of June 30, 2012, and the Russian-American agreement reached in Moscowon May 7,” he said.
At their talks in Moscow on May 7, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry agreed to hold an international conference on the basis of the Geneva Communique of June 30, 2012, in order to try to overcome the crisis in Syria.
Lavrov and Kerry said that their countries would encourage both the Syrian government and opposition groups to look for a political solution.
The Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, has consistently called on the U.S. and Russia to exercise leadership and work together to initiate a process to implement the Geneva Declaration of June 30, 2012.
That document - issued after a meeting in the Swiss city of the Action Group for Syria - lays out key steps in a process to end the violence. Among other items, it calls for the establishment of a transitional governing body, with full executive powers and made up by members of the present Government and the opposition and other groups, as part of agreed principles and guidelines for a Syrian-led political transition.
“There is every reason to expect the three other permanent members of the Security Council as a whole and indeed all the Security Council members to work together amongst themselves and with the Secretary-General to carry the process forward,” Brahimi said.