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Moscow considers US-led coalition's actions in Syria idle — Lavrov

May 31, 14:35 UTC+3 MOSCOW
According to Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, the US-led coalition "is just going through the motions" while Moscow is under impression of being fooled
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© AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic

MOSCOW, May 31. /TASS/. The US-led coalition in Syria is idle while militants continue arriving through the Turkish border, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda daily’s website on Tuesday.

According to Lavrov, the US-led coalition "is just going through the motions." "When I talked recently with [US Secretary of State John] Kerry, I inquired why they had actually stopped bombing terrorists and actually had not made a single sortie to fight oil smuggling into Turkey," the Russian foreign minister said.

"He [Kerry] said they were dealing with this. Again, the logic is put forward that terrorists are mixed with the good opposition and, therefore, when you hit terrorists, you harm the good opposition, which must be avoided," Lavrov said.

"But I reminded him that late in February they solemnly promised us that the groups that they consider patriotic and loyal and with whom they cooperate, will be removed from the positions occupied by Jabhat al-Nusra," the Russian foreign minister said, noting that over the past three months nothing had been done.

As the Russian foreign minister said, the United States asked for several days before a scheme would come into force, under which the groups refusing to join the truce regime would be "the legitimate target," irrespective of whether or not they were included in the lists of terrorists.

"They [the United States] asked for several days to respond. These days expire this week, so we’ll see," the Russian foreign minister said.

"The coalition is now actually idle while militants and military hardware continue arriving through the Turkish border. They are clearly preparing an offensive, which is prohibited by the accords and UN Security Council resolutions," the minister said.

"Meanwhile, they answer to us that the groups that are seemingly good are ready to stop breaching the truce but this requires the start of a political process. However, the delegation they have hammered together, first of all, with the Turkish support - the High Negotiations Committee - says it cannot participate in the negotiations because [Syrian President Bashar] Assad has not gone. This circus has been going on for long," the Russian foreign minister said.

"I honestly told my counterpart [Kerry] that it seemed to us that you are fooling us. But he vowed that this was not so and that coordination between the militaries would be finally established," Lavrov said.

US should base its approach to Syrian settlement on lessons learnt from its past experiences

The top diplomat has recommended Washington to take into account the lessons learnt from its experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan in its approaches to the Syrian settlement.

The United States, in his words, is sure its mistake in Libya was not in violating the United Nations Security Council’s mandate which envisaged the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya. "Bombs were dropped from these closed skies and finally Gaddafi was atrociously murdered. Whatever one might think of him, this was a war crime too, he said. "Now terrorists engulf Libya, with flows of militants and weapons spreading up to Mali and Chad."

"John [Kerry] says the mistake was in not deploying land forces after these air strikes and in not consolidating the situation," Lavrov added.

"However the United States already has a record of deploying troops in Afghanistan and Iraq to counter terrorism," he noted. "They safely withdrew later to leave both countries in a miserable state."

According to Lavrov, the United States admits its mistakes in Afghanistan and Iraq. "They say, ‘Well, it was a mistake but let bygones be bygones. So, let us now do what we [in Washington] want,’" the Russian minister said. "We (in Moscow) also want to have a say on Syrian matters but let us base approaches on the lessons learnt from the past experience."

On Mohammad Alloush's walkout

Lavrov has pointed out that the talks between Damascus and the Syrian opposition should involve the Kurds but be freed from extremist representatives.

"We demand and will go on demanding Turkey stop outrage against the Kurds in Iraq," he said. "We supply weapons to Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan with the consent from the Iraqi government - we have and can have no other criteria - to counter terrorism."

The Syrian Kurds also enjoy air support, he said. "We keep on persuading, and not to no avail, the Syrian government to go on cooperating with the Kurds and not to limit their future role in the Syrian state."

Obviously, it makes no one happy when the Democratic Union Party adopted a manifesto on a federative constituency," the Russian minister said. "But it also is linked with Turkey’s position. We agreed that the Geneva talks on Syria are to be inclusive but an entire group representing 15% of Syria’s population was excluded from these talks only because Turkey vetoed it."

"We were told that if the Kurds join [the talks], the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) will stop cooperating. But they are not cooperating in any case," Lavrov stressed. "We have already witnessed two episodes of desertion: the walkout of when [Mohammed] Alloush of Jaysh al-Islam, a blatantly terrorist organization which is now being justified… there were episodes of desertion of normal moderate representatives of this Committee.

"I think we will gradually get rid of such extreme representatives. The Kurds should be part of this process in any case," he underscored.

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