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Russia concerned over reported use of missiles with mustard gas by terrorists in Syria

April 06, 2016, 13:30 UTC+3

Reports said the Islamic State gunmen shelled a military airfield in Deir ez-Zor with missiles stuffed with mustard gas

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© Valeriy Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, April 6. /TASS/. The Russian side is concerned about reports on the use of missiles with mustard gas by militants of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group (outlawed in Russia) in Syria, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.

"Units of the Syrian army supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces continue their uncompromising struggle against ISIS terrorists [former name of IS - TASS] and Jabhat al-Nusra. To build up from the obvious success connected with the liberation of Palmyra on March 27 where Russian sappers began mine clearance, more than 1,500 explosive objects have been destroyed. These victories pave the way for the Syrian military to launch further offensive in the direction of the ISIS ‘capital city’ in Syria - the city of Raqqa - and Deir ez-Zor governorate," Zakharova said.

According to her, "against this backdrop, terrorist are trying to reverse the situation at any cost." "Reports of the shelling of a military airfield in Deir ez-Zor with missiles stuffed with mustard gas by Islamic State gunmen cause extreme concern. We are convinced that such actions by terrorists must be strongly condemned," the diplomat said.

US statements that future leadership of Syria should take into account people’s will

 The Russian Foreign Ministry welcomes statements of several US officials that the future Syrian leadership should take into account what Syrian people want.

Zakharova reminded that US Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said recently that Russia and US "believe that a political process that reflects the desires and will of the Syrian people is what should ultimately decide the future leadership and the future government of Syria."

"We welcome these statements and think that they are aimed at constructive movement and progress toward political process and comprehensive peaceful settlement of the situation in Syria," she noted.

Ceasefire in Syria holds, level of violence drops

According to the spokeswoman, the ceasefire in Syria generally holds.

"We note with satisfaction that the regime of cessation of hostilities is successfully observed in general. Agreements on ceasefire were reached between the government and opposition in many Syrian cities and towns. This positively affects the decreasing level of violence in the country in general and allows to deliver humanitarian aid to everyone who needs it," Zakharova said.

The ceasefire between government forces and armed opposition took effect in Syria at 00:00 Damascus Time on February 27. An hour before the agreement entered into force, UN Security Council adopted a resolution in support of cessation of hostilities in Syria.

Statement on Kurds’ involvement in Syria talks blocked at UN

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that the blocking of the statement on the Kurds’ involvement in the intra-Syrian talks cannot but cause regret.

"This stance is a cause for deep regret, especially since it runs counter to the decisions of the International Syria Support Group and the provisions of Resolution 2254 of the UN Security Council," the ministry said. "It is obvious that all this was done to cater to the interests of some regional players for whom ambition is more important than real progress in the Syrian settlement."

The Russian Foreign Ministry noted that Moscow would continue to "insist that the involvement of the Kurds, primarily, of the Democratic Union Party in the next round of the intra-Syrian talks is crucial in view of the substantive issues to be discussed by the Syrian parties during it."

On March 31, Russia circulated at the UN Security Council the draft statement for the media with an emphasis on the inclusive nature of the Syrian negotiation process. The main objective of the document was to draw attention to the need to send invitation to all opposition members, including representatives of the Kurds as a major component of the Syrian society, to take part in the talks.

"In spite of our willingness to seek compromise, Western Security Council members (France, UK and the US) and Ukraine that joined them essentially blocked the draft by proposing the amendments, which diluted the statement’s essence and misinterpreted factually the previous round of the talks describing it as inclusive," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

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