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Lavrov says US proposals to declare pauses in hostilities in Aleppo lead up blind alley

December 12, 2016, 20:18 UTC+3

Lavrov believes that the attack on Palmyra was orchestrated to give the militants a respite

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© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

BELGRADE, December 12./TASS/. Russian-American consultations underway in Geneva are facing the same problem that upset the agreements Moscow and Washington reached on September 9, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.

"The problem is very simple," he explained. "We say - let us first of all agree on what corridors will be provided to militants, given the previous experience when gunmen used any pause for regrouping, receiving replenishment from abroad and terrorizing the civilian population even more furiously," he said.

"We can coordinate this with Americans very quickly. We undertake commitments to guarantee that these corridors won’t be attacked by Syrian armed forces, while Americans undertake commitments together with their regional allies to get militants’ consent to leave eastern Aleppo via these safe corridors," Lavrov said.

The foreign minister drew attention to the fact that US colleagues first supported that concept and even committed their considerations to paper at a meeting in Rome on December 2. "But four days later they recalled these considerations and returned to their old and dead-end position, which is that before coordinating the corridors (for the withdrawal of refugees and gunmen) a pause of three, four and seven days must be declared," he said.

"We have already gone through this. This will mean that militants will once again get a respite. I hope they will stop sparing gunmen, that the United States as a serious power will use its influence on militants and on those who control gunmen apart from Washington, and that we will finally be able to solve this problem, honestly and caring first of all for the civilian population," he added.

Lavrov also stressed he doesn’t rule out that Islamic State’s attack on Syria’s Palmyra from Iraqi’s Mosul might be a mean of distraction.

"Palmyra, Islamic State’s offensive from Iraq, from Mosul to all appearances, offensive in three territories patrolled by the US-led coalition - all this suggests, and I hope very much to be wrong, that it was orchestrated, coordinated to give a respite to the militants who have entranced in Eastern Aleppo," he said.

Since the very beginning of the Syrian crisis the United States has been pursuing an ambivalent policy towards armed groups active in that country, the Russian top diplomat noted. Thus, while the US-led coalition is fighting against Islamic State, another terrorist group - Jabhat al-Nusra - is being shielded from strikes. "There are a lot of grounds to think that it is being spared as a most efficient and capable force fighting against the government on the ground to be further used to topple Syria’s legitimate government," Lavrov said.

Nevertheless, according to Lavrov, Russia hopes the United States will reiterate principal agreements on uncompromising struggle against terrorism. "Those who want to be part of settlement must immediately join the ceasefire regime and all the rest will be seen as subject to extermination," the Russian minister stressed.

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