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Moscow concerned about reports on US plan B for Syria — Russian Foreign Ministry

February 25, 2016, 10:50 UTC+3

Postponing the date of starting ceasefire in Syria is not on the agenda

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Russian Foreign Ministry building in Moscow

Russian Foreign Ministry building in Moscow

© Gennady Khamelyanin/TASS Archive

MOSCOW, February 25. /TASS/. Moscow is unaware of the availability of US plan B for Syria, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told a conference of the Valdai discussion club titled "Middle East: From Violence to Safety."

"US statements on the availability of some plan B give rise to concern. We know nothing about it," he said. "We are confident that now we should focus all efforts on implementing the ceasefire agreements that have been reached."

""Yet, there are grounds for optimism. The ceasefire agreements, if implemented, can be an example of the world community’s joint actions," the diplomat added.

"Now we approached the moment of truth - the ceasefire," Bogdanov said. He noted that the United States and Russia had voiced willingness to share responsibility for the parties’ actions. According to him, Russia "carries out necessary work with Damascus and expects the United States to do the same with other parties to the conflict."

According to the diplomat, postponing the date of starting ceasefire in Syria is not on the agenda.

Commenting on media reports that the start of ceasefire may be postponed to March 1, Bogdanov said: "Military actions should be stopped from 12am (1am Moscow time) on February 27."

The Komsomoskaya Pravda newspaper published a copy of an application form that commanders of Syrian opposition groups need to sign when joining the ceasefire regime. The document lists March 1 as the date when ceasefire enters into force. In particular, the signatory pledges "to stop military actions against Syrian army and cease using artillery and other types of weapons" from March 1. The document adds that the Syrian army will also stop military actions from March 1 in the region controlled by this particular opposition group.

"We hope that [ntra-Syrian talks will start] as soon as possible," Bogdanov said. "Moreover, the opposition should be represented by all groups acting on behalf of different parts of society," he added.

On Monday night Russia and the United States released a joint statement saying that the ceasefire will take effect in Syria at 00:00 Damascus Time on February 27.

"The United States of America and the Russian Federation, as co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) and seeking to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis with full respect for the fundamental role of the United Nations, are fully determined to provide their strongest support to end the Syrian conflict and establish conditions for a successful Syrian-led political transition process, facilitated by the UN," the joint statement of the United States and Russia said.

The statement points out that the cessation of hostilities is to be applied to all parties to the Syrian conflict but for Daesh (the Arabic acronym for Islamic State) and Jebhat an-Nusra (both are banned in Russia) "or other terrorist organizations designated by the UN Security Council."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the agreement and said UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura is ready to support implementation of the agreement at the site in Damascus and from Geneva.

Russian Defense Ministry official spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Wednesday that the coordination center on the ceasefire set up by the Russian Defense Ministry in Syria has already received over a dozen of calls.The center received about ten calls from those areas in Syria where Russian servicemen are carrying out active work, he said. Thus, the center’s staff members are working with representatives of the opposition groups in the Hama, Homs, Latakia provinces and the cities of Damascus and Daraa.

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