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Lavrov denies allegations that Syrian army is not fighting against terrorists

October 05, 2015, 15:33 UTC+3

The Syrian army is an absolutely obvious, maybe even the only squad that is ready to perform this function, Russian Foreign Minister says

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Free Syrian Army fighters

Free Syrian Army fighters


MOSCOW, October 5. /TASS/. The allegations that the Syrian army is not fighting against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group are untrue, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference on Monday.

"Americans had once said they would be delivering airstrikes on the IS positions and warned the Syrian government that the Syrian army should not take advantage of the results of these attacks and occupy the positions that the terrorists should have left in theory after the US strikes," the minister said.

In this regard, he said, it is illogical to accuse the Syrian army of not fighting against the terrorists. "The Syrian army is an absolutely obvious, maybe even the only squad that is ready to perform this function [fighting against terrorists]," said the Russian foreign minister.

He said that the US-led coalition, which "over the past year has made numerous sorties, numerous strikes on Syrian territory, for some reason has not been very active and open presenting the results of the anti-terrorist action." "At least, the American leaders themselves assess its results at the current stage as very modest, let alone failures in the training of the so-called moderate Syrian opposition," the Russian foreign minister added.

Syria’s moderate opposition also can hardly boast any success, the minister said. "Nobody knows about them, and no one has heard much about the moderate opposition," he said. "We talked about the Free Syrian Army, but it’s some phantom group," he said. "Nothing is known about it," Lavrov said. At least, I asked [US Secretary of State] John Kerry to provide us some information where this Free Syrian Army is located and who controls it. "We will even be ready to establish contact with it, if these are indeed efficient armed groups of the patriotic opposition that consist of Syrians," the foreign minister added. We don’t hide it, but no one has told us where the Free Syrian Army operates or where and how the other units of the so-called moderate opposition act," Lavrov said.

"If nothing is known about them, then only terrorist and other extremist groups may take advantage of the results of airstrikes by the American coalition — if it prevents or is trying to prevent the Syrian army from occupying the corresponding positions," the minister said. "I don’t see any other logic. So when our American colleagues tell us that the Syrian army is consciously not fighting against IS, this is also not very clear, because, once again, the Americans have publicly warned the Syrian army not to take the positions that have been "bombed" by the US-led coalition forces."

Russia is interested in cooperation with all without exception, Lavrov said. "We’ve had contacts with the leadership of Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, the Gulf states," he said. "We want, if all are really committed to the declarations of the fight against terrorism, the fight against international terrorism, to establish the appropriate contacts that would be based on the common interests, because the maximal results can be achieved only through joint efforts."

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