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Moscow warns against attempts to present Syria conflict as conflict between Sunni and Shia

December 23, 2015, 5:01 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said such attempts were being made by "a number of regional countries," without naming them

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© Artyom Geodakyan/TASS

MOSCOW, December 23. /TASS/. Some participants in the International Syria Support Group from the Middle East region are trying to present the Syrian crisis as a conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Dozhd television, noting that Russia regarded this approach as a most dangerous tendency.

"We have always said that it is a very dangerous tendency," she said. "And it is evident that such efforts are being made," Zakharova added, referring to "certain players" trying to interpret the Syrian conflict as a religious one.

Zakharova said such attempts were being made by "a number of regional countries," without naming them. "I can say that we hear very tough debate, including on this matter, even within the framework of the Vienna group that is now called International Syria Support Group," she noted.

"We hear statements about a possibility to interpret the developments as a sectarian conflict," she added.

"Enemy number one at the moment is Islamic State (outlawed in Russia), Jabhat al-Nusra (outlawed in Russia) and all small and big units that profess this terrorist logic, ideology and methods of action," the spokeswoman said.

She said the main task at the moment was to consolidate all existing possibilities "to fight what is a threat of an absolutely new type".

Russian operation in Syria has no alternative

An unprecedented threat from Islamic State - a terrorist group outlawed in Russia - and its proximity to the Russian borders makes it clear that the Russian operation in Syria is justified, Maria Zakharova said.

"The speed at which this organization is recruiting young people is an absolutely unprecedented thing," she said.

"Their propaganda, their luring the young people is a result of the use of modern means, up-to-date information and communication means," she added.

"It is an absolutely different, inhumane ideology that they are implanting. We have never seen anything like this," Zakharova said.

This threat emerged and was developing in close proximity to Russia, she added. "So there are no options in answering the question whether it (Russian operation in Syria) is justified or not," she added.

Russia’s aerospace forces launched pinpoint strikes against the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra targets in Syria on September 30 after the Federation Council upper parliament house unanimously approved President Vladimir Putin’s request for the use of the armed forces against terrorists in Syria.

The Russian air group in Syria comprises more than 50 warplanes and helicopters, including Su-34 and Su-24M bombers, Su-25 attack aircraft, Su-30SM fighters and Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters. Air strikes are delivered at military hardware, communications centers, transport vehicles, munitions depots and other terrorist infrastructure facilities. The military operation is conducted at the request of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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