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Russia ready to cooperate with all non-terrorist opposition groups in Syria

October 12, 2015, 15:52 UTC+3

Prospects for cooperation on Syria depend directly on the understanding that it is inadmissible to flirt with terrorists, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says

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MOSCOW, October 12. /TASS/. Moscow is ready to cooperate with both the Free Syrian Army and with all opposition groups in Syria which don’t use terrorist methods, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.

"Some time ago, countries were prone to yield to temptation to turn a blind eye on extremists seeking to achieve certain geopolitical goals, such as, in the first place, change of undesirable regimes in this or that country, and being guided by such considerations as ‘we are going to support extremists at the current stage letting them work for our goals and later on, when these goals are achieved and the regime is toppled, we will end with them,’" Lavrov said. "But it doesn’t work. It did not work in Iraq and Libya. It turned out the other way round."

"Now, there is chaos, rampant extremism and terrorism. Al Qaeda emerged from the same mistakes in its time, and now the Islamic State has emerged from the same logic," he noted.

"Prospects [for cooperation on Syria — TASS] depend directly on the understanding that it is inadmissible to flirt with terrorists, to erode common anti-terrorist tasks, to seek to make this anti-terrorist fight dependent on any matters or conditions that have no relation to it," the Russian foreign minister stressed.

"We see more understanding of this threat and the necessity to rebuff it in conversations with our United States and Gulf partners," he said.

Moscow is interested in better coordination between the US-led coalition and the Russian military that will not be confined only to elaborating rules to prevent accidental incidents, but also coordination of joint actions, he said. "We asked those who thinks to know better the situation ‘on the ground’ to tell us where are terrorists’ bases," Lavrov said. "But so far, our partners from that coalition are not ready for it. We also asked to tell us where the non-terrorist - the so-called patriotic - opposition is active so that we could take this information into account in our action. Our partners don’t want to do that either."

"Such ‘division of labour’ would be absolutely logical," the Russian top diplomat noted. "The coalition has been invited to Iraq, but it has not been invited to Syria. Such coordinated actions could be useful to ensure efficiency, legitimacy and compliance with international law. We are ready for that."

"Naturally, along with cooperation with the Syrian army, which is to consolidate progress in anti-terrorism efforts ‘on the ground,’ we are ready to cooperate with the non-terrorist - patriotic - opposition, which refrains from terrorist methods and ideology, the so-called Free Syrian Army," Lavrov said. "Once again, we publicly reiterate that we are ready to cooperate with such patriotically-minded units of the armed opposition, both in terms of coordination of anti-terrorist efforts in the Syrian territory, and in terms of involving these patriotic groups into the efforts towards launching a political process."

Russia calls on everyone to join the coordination center in Baghdad to fight against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organization.

"We invite all interested colleagues to join the work of the information center that we established in Baghdad together with the governments of Iraq, Syria and Iran," Lavrov said. "We are ready to consider other locations in the region where such coordination can be established with participation not only of these countries, but also of other countries in the Middle East and North Africa," he added.

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