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Russian Defense Ministry, Pentagon in close contact to monitor ceasefire in Syria

February 28, 20:38 UTC+3
Russia still has no information about the so-called Plan B on Syria, Russian president’s special envoy for the Middle East and African countries and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said
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© AP Photo/Hassan Ammar

MOSCOW, February 28. /TASS/. Russia’s Defense Ministry is staying in close contact with Pentagon to monitor ceasefire in Syria, Russian president’s special envoy for the Middle East and African countries and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told TASS on Sunday.

"Corresponding communications channels have been established, information exchange is underway," he said.

"It is up to the defense ministries to provide concrete information," he said, adding that Moscow was continuing coordination with Damascus and other parties to the settlement process.

The chief of the newly-established Russian Center for Ceasefire in Syria, Lieutenant-General Sergei Kuralenko, said on Sunday the ceasefire regime was generally observed. However, in his words, nine truce breaches have been registered over the past twenty-four hours. The truce breach instances included "information on the results of shelling of Kabana in the Latakia province, and also the trespassing of the Syrian border by a group of up to 100 militants from Turkey and the seizure of the northern part of Et Tell el-Abyad, some 82 km north of Raqqah, by this group in interaction with other groupings of militants," the general said.

The Russian center has turned to the U.S. Reconciliation Center for explanations over the shelling of Syria from the territory of Turkey, which is a member of the US-led coalition, Kuralenko said.

Moscow is ready to continues contacts on issues of the Syrian settlement with all parties concerned, Bogdanov said.

"And we are doing it," he said. "Foreign ministers from a number of Arab countries, the secretary generals of the Arab League have visited Moscow. We have had fruitful talks."

The Russian diplomat also reminded that President Vladimir Putin had had a series of telephone conversations, including with the King of Saudi Arabia, the Syrian and Iranian Presidents, Israel’s Prime Minister and the Emir of Qatar.

When asked about Damascus’ position, Bogdanov noted that the Syrian authorities has issued a statement and the country’s foreign ministry had come out with an official note reiterating that "Damascus supports the Russian-U.S. agreements and the resolution backing them." "The Syrian government supported the resolution and is ready to demonstrate responsibility and offer its cooperation to fulfil it. Damascus is saying it openly," he stressed.

"Plan B"

Russia still has no information about the so-called Plan B on Syria, the Russian diplomat told TASS.

"We know nothing about any Plan B," he said. "It would be strange if we speak about having other plans while trying to agree on anything."

Riyadh has reportedly said that in case Damascus and its allies don’t demonstrate a serious attitude to the implementation of the ceasefire regime there is an alternative plan envisaging Syrian President Bashar Assad's removal from power, either peacefully or by force.

Earlier, U.S. State Secretary John Kerry said that Washington and its foreign allies and partners are actively discussing alternative options if ceasefire in Syria is not implemented and political process in the country is not launched. "There is a significant discussion taking place now about a Plan B in the event that we do not succeed at the (negotiating) table," Kerry said. "It may be too late to keep it as a whole Syria if we wait much longer.".

The Kurds problem

The Kurds have a right to take part in the forthcoming intra-Syrian talks in Geneva, Bogdanov said.

"Of course, the Kurds must take part in the negotiating process," he said. "Kurd representatives took part in the Moscow and Cairo consultations and United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 says that the opposition is to be represented by all groups representing Syria’s ethnic and religious strata."

The Russian diplomat stressed that Kurds are Syrian citizens and control a large part of its territory. "All those who took part in the Moscow, Cairo and Riyadh consultations have the right to take part in the Geneva talks," he said, adding that the organization of the intra-Syria talks is the job for United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

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