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Moscow urges West to focus on fight against Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria

April 21, 10:39 UTC+3
The Russian top diplomat calls for expanding the list of Syrian opposition groups that have agreed to join truce
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© EPA/MOHAMMED BADRA

ASTANA, April 21. /TASS/. Russia calls on the Western countries that have their military in Syria to focus on the fight against terrorists, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday.

"There is a special ops unit of some Western countries there and Turkey’s armed forces in Syria, and certainly the US-led coalition," Lavrov said.

"If these forces are used to combat terrorism, the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra (terrorist groups, outlawed in Russia), I think the result could be achieved rather quickly and be positive," he said.

"Let us not forget about the political process. We are actively promoting the need to begin work on the constitution at an early date," he said. "You mentioned the so-called High Negotiations Committee. They do not want to do that."

"There is hard work to be done, but those who directly influence the High Negotiations Committee and provide financial assistance to it, should understand that if they continue to be led by the opposition members whose position is destructive, it will do them no credit," the Russian top diplomat stressed.

"They (the HNC) still refuse to accept what the UN offered in Geneva, namely, to start working simultaneously on the issues of governance at this stage, the issues of drafting a new constitution, preparations for elections and the fight against terrorism," Lavrov noted. "They reject everything and are only willing to discuss the issue of overthrowing (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad."

"The work that lies ahead is not going to be easy. However, those who directly influence and finance this High Negotiations Committee should give a thought to the fact that continuing to connive with these opposition members taking a destructive stance is just unworthy."

Russia wants more groups to join Syria truce

Russia is taking steps for expanding the list of Syrian opposition groups that have joined truce.

"We are working for the expansion of the range of truce participants. We wish it to incorporate more armed opposition groups," he said. "What complicates the process is a reverse movement is in progress. Those who support the terrorist organization Jabhat al-Nusra (outlawed in Russia - TASS) have been trying to attract more armed groups, thereby tearing them away from the Astana process."

Lavrov noted that the situation "on the ground" in Syria is very complicated. "There are many actors with arms in their hands there. First, this is certainly the Syrian army and contingents of Russia’s Aerospace Forces supporting it, Iranian contingents and Hezbollah that help the government to combat terrorism upon its request."

Russia’s top diplomat called on other countries that have armed forces in Syria to focus on war on terror. "There is a special ops unit of some Western countries there and Turkey’s armed forces in Syria, and certainly the US-led coalition," Lavrov said. "If these forces are used to combat terrorism, the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra (terrorist groups, outlawed in Russia), I think the result could be achieved rather quickly and be positive," he said.

OPCW steps 

"The steps taken by the United States and its western allies, who opposed sending experts to find out the truth on the scene of the alleged chemical weapons incident, are rather alarming because behind them, there is an attempt to find a pretext to refrain from implementing the UN Security Council resolution on political settlement as well as to shift the global community’s attention to creating pretexts for changing the regime," the Russian top diplomat said.

Lavrov pointed out that a vast majority of the United Nations member states did not approve of such course. "I believe, those supporting the Astana platform set up by Russia and Turkey with Iran’s assistance, also do not agree," he added.

Russia-Turkey-Iran cooperation

Russia has been cooperating with Turkey and Iran to set up mechanisms for deterring violators of the Syrian ceasefire.

"Squabbles still continue among the armed opposition members while the attitude towards the Kurds has been ambiguous, since we and the US-led coalition cooperate with them while the Turkish authorities believe that it is not right," Lavrov said. "There are a lot of external factors but the main thing is that through the Astana process, we seek to strengthen the ceasefire and determine specific criteria for those who do not want to be deemed terrorists," he added. "Together with Turkey and Iran, we have been working to set up mechanisms for not only recording ceasefire violations but also for taking measures against violators."

"Besides, participants in the Astana process will make an agreement aimed at stabilizing the situation by uniting areas joining the ceasefire, so that locals could help fight extremists," the Russian top diplomat added.

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