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US policy on Kurds may affect entire Middle East region — Russian top diplomat

The foreign minister doubted the US would indeed withdraw troops from Syria

NUR-SULTAN, October 9. /TASS/. The inconsistent policy of the US on the Kurds may affect the entire Middle Eastern region, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated on Wednesday, adding that it must be stopped at all costs.

"The Americans need to understand that the events that took place in northeast Syria in the past few years with their participation are a direct violation of the UN Security Council resolution on respecting Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. The Americans have established quasi-government structures there, keeping them functional and actively promoting the Kurdish issue in a way to cause dissent among the Arab tribes traditionally populating these territories," the Russian top diplomat said.

"It is a very dangerous game," Lavrov noted. "During my recent visit to Iraq, I have talked with the Iraqi Kurds: they are very much concerned that such careless treatment of a highly sensitive issue may affect the whole region, which must be avoided at all costs. We are trying to make it clear to the US side. However, so far, we see few changes in their inconsistent and contradictory policy," the minister stressed.

He pointed out that US actions in Syria attest to the inability of Washington to come to an agreement. "The fact that our American colleagues are full of contradictions reflects their inability to reach an agreement, this is clear to me. We have called on them repeatedly to put an end to the unlawful occupation of territory in the area of Al-Tanf, where they created a base with the radius of 55 km — a huge territory that shelters some very bad people, including terrorists, extremists, people who terrorize refugees and displaced persons in the Rukban camp," Lavrov continued. "The Americans have repeatedly broken their promises, just like they broke the promise to limit and then to eliminate their presence in Al-Tanf."

"[US President] Donald Trump did state many times that he would withdraw US troops from Syria and other states. Then his directives were shut down by those tasked to follow them. We might be witnessing something similar now," the foreign minister assumed.

On October 1, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Ankara planned to create a safety zone east of the Euphrates River in Syria on its own as it had failed to achieve the desired result in talks with the US. The White House said following an October 6 telephone conversation between US President Donald Trump and Erdogan that "the United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area." On October 7, Erdogan stated that Washington had begun the withdrawal of troops from northeast Syria, where Turkey planned to carry out an operation to establish a safety zone.

On Monday, Trump wrote on Twitter that "it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous endless wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home." The White House first announced the decision to pull troops out of Syria on December 19, 2018.

Ways to resolve conflict in Syria

Moscow is confident that the situation in northeast Syria should be resolved exclusively through dialogue between the government in Damascus and the Kurdish communities in the region, Sergey Lavrov told reporters on Wednesday.

"Our stance unequivocally proceeds from the need to solve all problems of that part of Syria through dialogue between the central government in Damascus and representatives of the Kurdish communities that have traditionally lived in these territories," he said.

According to Lavrov, following statements on the situation in northeast Syria made by Ankara and Washington, Moscow had contacts with both representatives of the Kurds and the Syrian government. "We confirmed that we were encouraging them to begin the dialogue to solve problems in that part of Syria, including those related to ensuring security on the Turkish-Syrian border," he noted.

"We continue to believe that this is the only way to achieve sustainable stabilization of the situation. Yesterday we heard statements made by both officials in Damascus and representatives of the Kurds that they are ready for such a dialogue. We will try to do our utmost to facilitate the beginning of such meaningful talks. We hope it will be backed by all major external players," Russia’s top diplomat stressed.

Commenting on Ankara’s stance on the issue, Lavrov recalled that he earlier had a telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu. "He unambiguously confirmed to me that Turkey respected Syria’s territorial integrity and would proceed in its actions from the assumption that the ultimate goal of our efforts was, in particular, the full restoration of the Syrian state’s territorial integrity," he said.