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Russia committed to deal on southern de-escalation zone in Syria — diplomat

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman says Moscow remains committed to the agreements on the southern de-escalation zone in Syria

MOSCOW, June 28. /TASS/. Russia remains committed to the agreements on the southern de-escalation zone in Syria, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

"Russia did not pull out of the memorandums agreed jointly with the United States and Jordan on July 7, 2017 and in November that year on the de-escalation zone in Syria’s southwest," the diplomat said.

"We confirm the need to fulfill these provisions, including on the fight against terrorists - Al Nusra and the Islamic State (terror group, outlawed in Russia)," Zakharova said.

"It’s high time our American partners did what the Syrian forces are doing now with the support of Russia’s Aerospace Forces," she said. According to the diplomat, the US administration’s decision on the additional funding of the White Helmets organization casts doubt whether Washington sincerely wishes to eradicate terrorism, and to achieve settlement and stability in Syria.

Back on May 4, US, which has been supporting the White Helmets since 2013, announced about suspending the funding for them, but on June 14 Washington authorized the delivery of $6.6 mln to the organization.

Russia, Jordan and the US agreed in July 2017 to establish a de-escalation zone in southwestern Syria, which included three southernmost Syrian provinces: Daraa, Quneitra and As-Suwayda.

Over the past months, tensions have been mounting there. The Russian Foreign Ministry noted the reported attempts near Daraa by the Syrian opposition and the Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State terror organizations, which are outlawed in Russia, to establish autonomy in southern Syria with support from the US, which may lead to a breakup of the country.

The White Helmets have made numerous claims that the aviation of Syria’s government forces delivers strikes against areas where civilians live. This NGO was among those which disseminated reports on the use of chemical weapons in Syria’s Douma on April 7.

The Russian Foreign Ministry slammed this report as a bogus story, and the Defense Ministry said the White Helmets was not a reliable source of information as it was known for spreading fabricated news. Officers from the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Sides in Syria visited Douma but did not find any traces of chemical weapons.