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Moscow does not rule out unilateral steps against gunmen violating Syrian truce

March 21, 19:39 UTC+3
"We do not rule out in this context that we will have to resort to the unilateral termination of actions of the gunmen who fail to honor the ceasefire," the Russian Foreign Ministry's statement says
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© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, March 21. /TASS/. Moscow believes that procrastinating indefinitely the drafting of the common stance on the ceasefire in Syria is "dangerous and counterproductive" and does not rule out stopping such actions unilaterally, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.

"Moscow points with satisfaction to the continued cooperation with the US on all issues of ensuring the cessation of hostilities in Syria," the statement said. "For that end, Russia and the US as co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) have a number of communication channels, including military-to-military contacts. Today one can say that the ceasefire regime in Syria imposed on February 27 is largely observed."

The ministry pointed to the decrease in the level of violence, the growing number of the armed opposition groups "that have renounced hostilities and chose the path of reconciliation." On the other hand, careful monitoring data indicates the presence of a host of militant units, which "evade from complying with the ceasefire, violate it and not only disassociate themselves but, on the contrary, cooperate with Jabhat al-Nusra [outlawed in Russia — TASS] placed on the list of terrorist groups by the UN Security Council."

"From the very beginning, Moscow has been aware of these and other difficulties in implementing the joint Russian-US agreements," the Russian Foreign Ministry said. "To that end, we offered our American partners to create the appropriate joint mechanism, which would provide for exchanging information and registering ceasefire violations with the subsequent punishment of those responsible for such violations."

"We have been in contact with the Americans for quite a while," the ministry said. "However, so far, these contacts have not taken us close enough to procedures of identifying and stopping all ceasefire violations coordinated by Russia and the U.S. as ISSG co-chairs. We are convinced that thereby a wrong signal is sent to the opposition members who did not join the ceasefire and not dissociate themselves from well-known terrorist groups properly."

"We are still interested in devising the procedure of our response to ceasefire violations coordinated with the US and other members of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) on the basis of the decisions taken at the ISSG plenary meeting in Munich," the ministry said. "However, we believe that procrastinating indefinitely the drafting of such common stance is dangerous and counterproductive. We do not rule out in this context that we will have to resort to the unilateral termination of actions of the gunmen who fail to honor the ceasefire."

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