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Russia urges UN to pay attention to US-led coalition’s operation in Syria’s Raqqa

January 22, 13:26 UTC+3

Russia’s top diplomat slams the US' plans to create security forces in Syria as provocation

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Raqqa, Syria

Raqqa, Syria

© AP Photo/ Gabriel Chaim

MOSCOW, January 22. /TASS/. Moscow requests the United Nations pay attention to the consequences of the US-led coalition’s operation to free Syria’s Raqqa, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.

"A thing to note is that while they have been expressing concern over Idlib and Eastern Ghouta, but they are unwilling to assess the US-led coalition’s operation in Syria’s Raqqa," Lavrov said. "We insist that the United Nations, the Security Council pay attention to it," he added.

The Russian top diplomat stressed that Moscow would "continue insisting that the United Nations, the Security Council pay attention to this." "Huge humanitarian efforts are required for demining the area, otherwise people won’t be able to return," Lavrov noted.

The US effort to create security forces along Syria’s borders with Turkey and Iraq may be a deliberate provocation and the statements made to deny these plans look clumsy, he said. 

"We have long been drawing attention to the fact that the United States has taken a course towards creating alternative bodies of power on a considerable part of the Syrian territory," the Russian foreign minister said.

"Washington is making open and unpublicized deliveries of modern armaments to Syria for their transfer to allied groups, first of all, the Syrian Democratic Forces, which rely on the Kurdish militia," Lavrov said.

"In the follow-up of this course towards gross interference in Syria’s internal affairs, it was announced that some border security forces would be set up along Syria’s entire border with Turkey and Iraq," Lavrov said.

"After that, some clumsy statements were made to dismiss this information but in actual fact this entire activity for assuming control of the Syrian territory on the border with Iraq and Turkey continued," Russia’s top diplomat said.

According to the Russian foreign minister, simultaneously the United States "is discouraging Kurds in every possible way from the dialogue with Damascus, encouraging separatist sentiments among Kurds, fully ignoring the delicate nature and the regional dimension of the Kurdish problem."

"This is either failure to understand the situation or a deliberate provocation," Russia’s top diplomat said.

Jabhat al-Nusra militants in East Ghouta

The West ignores the presence of Jabhat al-Nusra-connected militants in East Ghouta, whose fire attacks have affect the Russian embassy, too, he said. 

"For quite some time our Western partners have been trying to fan a scandal over East Ghouta and Idlib while ignoring the fact that the concentration of militants close to Jabhat al-Nusra (outlawed in Russia as a terrorist organization) remains high there and that these militants mount fire attacks on Damascus, including the Russian embassy," Lavrov said. "Also, they ignore the fact that just recently the Syrian government and Russian military personnel began an evacuation of children, including those requiring medical assistance, from East Ghouta."

"Emotionally drawing attention of the global community to humanitarian problems of Idlib, Western colleagues are ignoring the evident fact, that it was exactly in eastern Idlib that the terrorist organization Jabhat al-Nusra has been running things up until recently," he said.

"An offensive of the Syrian army with our support began quite recently, which has resulted in the encirclement of the main part of al-Nusra. Apparently this is what arouses such concern in some Western countries," he added.

"The US and the coalition it heads strive to spare Jabhat al-Nusra, keeping the group to implement the plan on a regime change - the so-called Plan B," the minister pointed out. "It is totally unacceptable to us, and we will vehemently oppose such attempts."

The Syrian National Dialogue Congress

 Kurdish representatives are on the invitation list for the Syrian National Dialogue Congress due in Russia’s Sochi, he went on.

"Kurdish representatives were put on the list of Syrians invited to the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi," Lavrov said. Kurds must be involved in the process of a political settlement in Syria, the senior diplomat stressed. "As for the role of Kurds in the further political settlement, of course this role must be ensured," he said.

Yemeni crisis

Russia will continue dialogue with the Houthis [members of the Ansar Allah movement - TASS], the Saudi-led collation, as well as with other Yemeni groups and interested countries capable of influencing the situation in Yemen, Lavrov said following his meeting with Yemeni top diplomat Abdulmalik Al-Mekhlafi on Monday.

"At the same time, we will continue our dialogue with the Houthis, other Yemeni political groups and all the interested states, including members of the Saudi-led coalition, who can influence future developments in the country and the entire region, encouraging those who are capable of influencing the situation to facilitate the transition from the use of force to a political dialogue as soon as possible," Lavrov said.

The murder of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh was aimed at undermining the efforts to start a peaceful settlement of the situation in this country, he said.

"When it happened, we regarded it as a very grave crime apparently devised to undermine the efforts to embark on a peaceful settlement," the Russian minister stressed.

"It is known that Ali Abdullah Saleh argued in favor of breaking the barriers with the President [Abd-Rabbu Mansour] Hadi administration in order to end the bloodshed. There was the impression that the Ansar Allah [movement] will be completely isolated soon and the situation will be settled quickly even without any political negotiations. However, the situation has been evolving in a far more complicated way," Lavrov noted. The Russian foreign minister named the situation in the General People's Congress party which was led by Saleh and in which "supporters of negotiations and supporters of a harder line - to prolong the standoff with Yemen’s lawful administration - appeared."

"All of this only confirms that there is no alternative to the launch of inter-Yemeni inclusive talks. Here we’ve got a common position with that of Yemen’s administration, and we will promote it in further contacts with both the Yemeni sides and the external players," the minister stressed.

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