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Russian top official: Jabhat al-Nusra’s renaming didn’t make it moderate opposition

Chief of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev believes the group has no place at the negotiating table if it uses terrorist methods

MOSCOW, October 18. /TASS/. The renaming of Jabhat al-Nusra did not make it a moderate opposition grouping and no talks can be held with it, Chief of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev said on Tuesday.

"The renaming [of Jabhat al-Nusra] into Jabhat Fateh al-Sham has not turned it into moderate opposition," Patrushev told journalists.

"No matter what the armed grouping is called, it has no place at the negotiating table if it uses terrorist methods. It has to be destroyed," Patrushev said.

This grouping poses considerable threat along with the Islamic State [a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia], Patrushev said.

The international community has recognized Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist organization. According to the UN data, more than half of militants active in Syria’s Aleppo are fighting in its ranks, the chief of Russia’s Security Council said.

Patrushev is certain that the United States has been conducting talks with Russia over Syria just for the sake of gaining time the militants could use for regrouping themselves.

"Memories are fresh of the United States’ September 17 attack, ostensibly carried out by mistake, as it would later claim, against Syrian troops that the Islamic State surrounded near Deir ez-Zor," he told the media.

"The negotiations with Russia that were conducted in fact every day were used by Washington to gain time the militants needed to regroup themselves. Now we can see the result. Ever more groups in Syrian territory the United States had been in touch with are merging with Jabhat al-Nusra," he said.

"We continue to hope that the constructive point of view in Washington [on cooperation in the fight against terrorism in Syria] will eventually prevail," he told reporters. "We are ready to consider the possible additional measures to normalize the situation in Aleppo with the US military."

According to Patrushev, Syria has fallen victim to double standards in the fight against terrorism shown by the West and individual regional players pursuing their own interests. "The Syrian people remains the loser in this game," he stated. Russia points to the need to prioritize humanitarian issues. "The Russian Emergencies Ministry and Defense Ministry deliver humanitarian aid to the Syrian population on a permanent basis," he emphasized.

"The US has drawn a line under its policy of double standards when it said the other day that dialogue with Russia on Syria would be curtailed," Patrushev said. He warned that terrorism had never recognized state borders. "What is happening today in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan, could be repeated in other countries tomorrow," he noted.