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Russian diplomat: Russia to continue assisting Syrian government in anti-terror efforts

February 02, 2016, 21:59 UTC+3

According to Gennady Gatilov, ceasefire will not be applicable to extremist groups

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© Vadim Savitsky/Russian Defense Ministry press service/TASS

GENEVA, February 2. /TASS/. Russia will continue its assistance to the Syrian government in the fight against terrorism, and ceasefire will not be applicable to extremist groups, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on Tuesday.

"Russia understands the importance of reaching a ceasefire," he said. "But it will not be applicable to terrorists."

He stressed that "Russia will continue its assistance to the Syrian government in the fight against terrorists."

Talks on Syria

Russia hopes Syrian Kurds will join the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva. United Nations special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, will continue to send invitations to them, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister went on to say.

"The Kurdish aspect, I would say, is dominating our discussions, as the Kurds are serious part of the opposition," he said. "De Mistura promised us to continue sending officials invitation to the Kurds. We hope they will join later."

In Gennady Gatilov's words, Jaish al-Islam group’s representative, Mohammed Alloush, is taking part in Geneva contacts on the Syrian settlement exclusively in a private capacity.

"We think that these groups [Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham] are terrorist organization and have a corresponding attitude to them," he said. "And as for the fact that some persons from these organizations are present here, they are participating in the opposition delegation exclusively in a private capacity."

China shares Russia’s principal approaches to the Syrian settlement, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov continued.

"China basically shares Russia’s approaches," he said, commenting of Tuesday’s contacts with Chinese diplomats. "As of today, almost all understand the necessity of the soonest settlement of the conflict," he stressed.

According to Gatilov, Russia does not rule out more contacts with United States representatives in Geneva to discuss the intra-Syrian talks, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on Tuesday.

"When we met with US representatives last time, we agreed that more such contacts could be organized later," he said. He did not specify however when such contacts could be arranged.

A possible merger of two delegations of the Syrian opposition at the Geneva peace talks is not expected so far, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister said.

A merger of two delegations into one opposition delegation "is not yet on the agenda," he said. "Currently, two delegations are here, namely the Riyadh group and the so-called Lausanne group. These two key groups will be partners to the Syrian government delegation."

The final makeup of the Syrian opposition delegation at peace talks in Geneva will be agreed within the next two days, Gatilov noted.

"[United Nations Envoy for Syria Staffan] de Mistura will meet with representatives of the opposition in the next few days. The makeup of the delegation for negotiations may be announced after this meeting," he said. "It may take place tomorrow or the day after tomorrow."

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