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Top diplomat: Situation in eastern Aleppo to be resolved within two or three days

December 14, 2016, 11:30 UTC+3

The Russian foreign minister has rejected the reports that the liberation of Aleppo is accompanied by the forcible expulsion of residents from the city

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© SANA via AP

MOSCOW, December 14. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has expressed hope that terrorists in eastern Aleppo will finally stop their resistance within the next two or three days.

"I hope that militants will end their resistance within the next two or three days," he said at a meeting with the participants in the Dialogue for the Future program on Wednesday. "Those refusing to do so…they will make their own choice."

Lavrov also said that information on alleged atrocities during the liberation of the Syrian city of Aleppo was not confirmed by the data of non-governmental organizations.

"I know first-hand assessments of independent humanitarian organizations," he said.

"None of them confirm the allegations that some atrocities, some abductions are being committed in east Aleppo," Lavrov said.

The Russian foreign minister rejected the reports that the liberation of Aleppo is accompanied by the forcible expulsion of residents from the city.

"Only those are leaving the city who want to do this," the Russian foreign minister said.

Talks with militant groups

Moscow maintains contacts with all militant groups in Syria, except for gunmen of the Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist groups (outlawed in Russia), Lavrov said.

The minister stressed that the intra-Syrian talks had not resumed yet, in particular, because of the stance by the Syrian opposition’s High Negotiation Committee. "We have long been prepared for the resumption of the negotiation process by the UN. So far, the talks have been delayed. There are people there who deliberately create stumbling blocks and who have formed the so-called High Negotiation Committee," Lavrov said.

He noted that this is just one Syrian opposition group "made up mainly of emigrants, which has little influence on what is happening on the ground and which, for some reason, has been strongly supported by the Friends of Syria group consisting of Western powers and regional countries." "Many of these countries argue that the High Negotiation Committee should be the only representative of the opposition at the talks with the government," Lavrov recalled. "The committee itself says that it will not hold talks with the government until (Syrian President Bashar) al-Assad steps down or disappears from the face of the earth." Russia’s top diplomat noted that the UN Security Council resolution, which stipulates the negotiation process, efforts to draft a new Constitution and hold elections, "makes no preconditions for beginning such talks."

"Together with our counterparts, we began working with those who really control the situation on the ground," the minister said. "We hold talks with all militant groups, except for the IS and Al-Nusra Front. They have been put on the terrorist lists."

"We also hold talks with regional countries, including our Turkish counterparts," Lavrov added.

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