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Russia’s ambassador says Syrian army may start new offensive against IS in Palmyra

February 07, 8:10 UTC+3

Syria’s army backed by the Russian Aerospace Forces is making attempts of seizing the initiative in the area of Palmyra from the IS, the Russian ambassador has noted

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© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, February 7. /TASS/.  The Syrian Army, which is supported by the Russian Aerospace Force, is making attempts to recapture the initiative from the militants in the area of Palmyra, the Russian ambassador to Syria, Alexander Kinshchak told TASS.

"As for the military aspect of developments there, the Syrian government forces that are drawing on support from the allies, including the Russian Aerospace Force, are making attempts now to seize initiative from the Islamic State in this area."

He also said particularly intense combat operations were taking place near the T-4 airbase:

"Jihadists are suffering big losses there and are retreating. This is still some way off from Palmyra but I don’t have any doubts its turn will come soon," Kinshchak said.

"Mass media are talking a lot about the situation in the ancient part of Palmyra and that’s why I don’t see any need in an expanded advertising of the organization of diehard terrorists, which is banned in Russia, or in further comments on their barbaric actions against the monuments of the antique civilization," Kinshchak said.

In March 2016, Syrian Army units supported by the Russian Aerospace Force liberated Palmyra after ten-months-long control by the IS. Russian army engineers took part in mine-clearing efforts in the city.

On December 9, the IS attacked Palmyra again. The government troops retreated from the central part of the city on the night of December 11.

On January 20, 2017, reports said the IS militants had destroyed the facade of the Roman Theatre and the Four Pylons architectural compound in Palmyra.

The liberation of Idlib

It is too premature yet to discuss a possibility of liberation of Syria's Idlib from terrorists at this moment, the Russian ambassador to Syria has warned.

At this state, the priority task is to maintain and consolidate the ceasefire, he said:

"That's why there's no discussing the possibilities of 'a march on Idlib' where militants from the liberated areas of Syria are flocking. I think prospects for liberation will get clearer as long the separation of terrorists and the groupings ready to give up struggle against the government forces continues."

Nusra Front and the talks in Astana 

Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group has created a new coalition to fight against the groups that took part in the talks in Kazakhstan’s Astana, Russia’s ambassador to Damascus stressed: 

"After the meeting of delegations of the Syrian government and the armed opposition in Kazakhstan’s capital on January 23-24, the terrorists of Nusra [Syrian branch of al-Qaeda] made up a new coalition of very radically-minded Jihadists and started large-scale combat actions against their former ‘brothers-in-arms,’ the representatives of whom took part in the above mentioned Astana event." 

Syria's constitution 

Representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition could create a joint constitutional commission to work on a draft of the new constitution:

"As for preparing a draft of the new constitution - and this task is considered to be vital by all the sound Syrian sides - here it would be right to speak about exchanging views and groundwork of various political forces, including with our participation, rather than practical work on agreeing on the text of a particular document. It’s a long way to go," the diplomat said.

"For the beginning, an intra-Syrian working body should be probably created, for example, a joint constitutional commission with the participation of representatives of the government and the opposition," Kinshchak added. 

The ambassador stressed that Russia’s key task remains the same - to "encourage both representatives of the authorities and their opponents, the opposition, to jointly search for the ways out of the current crisis situation." This means "providing assistance to the Syrian partners rather than doing something for them," the diplomat explained:

"As for preparing a draft of the new constitution - and this task is considered to be vital by all the sound Syrian sides - here it would be right to speak about exchanging views and groundwork of various political forces, including with our participation, rather than practical work on agreeing on the text of a particular document. It’s a long way to go." 

"For the beginning, an intra-Syrian working body should be probably created, for example, a joint constitutional commission with the participation of representatives of the government and the opposition," Kinshchak said.

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