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MOSCOW, March 2. /TASS/. A total of 38 local reconciliation agreements have been reached in Syria and the Syrian ceasefire regime that took effect on February 27 has been violated 31 times, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.
"Over the first three days [of the ceasefire] the total number of local reconciliation agreements has increased to 38," she said. "Also, 31 cases of violation of the ceasefire regime have been registered. The American group on [Syrian] reconciliation has been informed of these facts," she said.
The diplomat also pointed out that journalists from 11 media organizations came under shelling in Syria on March 1.
"It will be correct if we name the media organizations that were present in Syria at that moment [without specifying the names of the journalists who came under fire]," she said.
"This group included representatives of the news agency AP, the BBC TV Channel, CDF, Germany’s N24, the Canadian CBC, the Chinese TV Channel Phoenix, the German television RTI, the Italian information agency ANSA, the Spanish television TV3, the Greek television Mega-TV and the Bulgarian media organization Media-Most," the spokeswoman said.
As Head of the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of the Warring Sides in the Syrian Arab Republic, Lieutenant-General Sergei Kuralenko said earlier, a group of foreign and Russian journalists came under large-caliber artillery fire from 12:04 to 12:10 p.m. on March 1 in the settlement of Kinsibba.
The fire was delivered from the village of Bdama and the Syrian-Turkish border. Overall, eight large-caliber artillery shells were fired. They exploded some 150-450 meters from the journalists.
According to Kuralenko, "as a result of the shelling, four journalists [from China, Canada, Bulgaria and Russia] sustained injuries.".
According to the spokeswoman, Moscow hopes that Washington’s speculations about alternative plans for Syria will remain just words.
"Russia and the United States have launched the mechanism of monitoring the ceasefire regime observance by the Syrian government and all the armed opposition groups," Zakharova said. "We do hope that statements by a number of high-ranking Washington official about some Plan B or alternative plans for Syria in case of the resumption of hostilities will remain just words," Zakharova said.
"We are urging US partners to stick to the assumed commitments," the diplomat said. "Now it is necessary to take a bona fide and responsible approach to the implementation of the Russian-American agreement on the cessation of hostilities in Syria."
"We continue the purposeful work with members of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) and other influential international players," Zakharova said. "We urge them to support the US-Russian plan in practice and by concrete steps, which could be the basis for the restoration of peace and security in Syria and the successful development of the inter-Syrian political process on the basis of the provisions of Resolution 2254 of the UN Security Council."
Commenting on the recent Western media reports about a two-week ceasefire in Syria, the diplomat said that no specific time limits have been set. "It is not so," she said. "There is no two-week or other period of the ceasefire, it must be indefinite. All the efforts are focused exactly on this. The efforts of a huge number of experts, specialists and the potential of interstate relations are not aimed just at giving the sides a one-week or two-week break. Nobody was going to do this. This should be clearly understood." However, Zakharova said, if the Western media talk about some specific time limits, it "should be designated as a private view and not as a decision of the ISSG or the United Nations." "We must be very careful here," she added.
Zakharova also noted that Syrians should decide on the country’s state structure themselves.
"The question is that Syria’s form of government is on the agenda of the intra-Syrian dialogue, discussions and making consensus decisions," Zakharova said.
"It should be definitely done by the Syrians," she said underscoring that the Syrian crisis had "an international dimension."
"Along with this, our determined stand is that the Syrians should decide on the issue of state structure," Zakharova said.
Moscow is convinced that Kurds should participate in the intra-Syrian talks; according to Zakharova their absence will be bad for the whole process.
"We have been raising this issue [of Kurdish participation] at all meeting devoted to launching the inter-Syrian dialogue. Lavrov’s contacts at the Geneva floor held yesterday were no exception," the diplomat said. According to her, Russia’s stance is that the Kurds should join the negotiations under the United Nations auspices.
Zakharova said that the United Nations was in charge of all organizational matters.
"We are not making any agreements with the United Nations or deciding who should be invited and who should not. We have the right to express our opinion on this matter and we have done that: this dialogue, this process will be crippled without Kurds," the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman added.
Asked if opposition groups, which have refused to sign the ceasefire agreement are going to participate in the Syria peace talks, Zakharova said ironically that they still had to hold out until that moment.
"Only groups that have agreed to the ceasefire have been excluded from the air strikes. It is important for them to realize that their security depends on their will expression," she said.