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London calls Assad responsible for conflict - Foreign Ministry

March 29, 3:27 UTC+3 LONDON
The Ministry regrets that the site of Palmyra has become a pawn in the wider Syrian conflict, the only way out of which is through a political settlement
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© Valery Sharifulin / TASS archive

LONDON, March 29. /TASS/. UK welcomes the liberation of the ancient city of Palmyra from the Islamic State (IS, terrorist organization banned in Russia), although it believes that the Syrian government is responsible for the conflict in the country, according to the statement by the Foreign Ministry of the United Kingdom.

According to the document, while any action against the Islamic State is welcome, the Syrian regime is responsible for the conflict. The Ministry regrets that the site of Palmyra has become a pawn in the wider Syrian conflict, the only way out of which is through a political settlement.

The Syrian media reported early on Sunday morning that the government troops had liberated the ancient town of Palmyra, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list, located 215 km (133.5 miles) from Damascus and started mine-clearing in the streets of the town.

The Islamic State terrorist group seized Palmyra early in the summer of 2015. The Syrian authorities warned at that time that the unique historical complex could repeat the sad fate of the ancient Iraqi cities of Ashur and Nimrud, which had been fully ruined and eliminated by militants.

Russia began to deliver pinpoint air strikes against terrorist targets in Syria on September 30, 2015 at the request from Syria’s President Bashar Assad. Withdrawal of the major part of Russia’s air group from Syria began on March 15. The Russian defense ministry says however that Russian warplanes will continue air strikes against terrorist targets.

A ceasefire regime brokered by Russia and the United States on February 22 officially came into effect in Syria at midnight Damascus time on February 27. This does not cover terrorist groups such as Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, both outlawed in Russia, and other groups recognized as terrorist by the United Nations Security Council.

Most Palmyra residents left the city last May together with the Syrian government troops. Now there are from 15,000 to 20,000 people there.

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