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Lavrov says US, allies not seeking separation of terrorists from opposition in Aleppo

The nearly two-week-long pause in the flights of aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Air Force should have been enough to carry out this separation, Lavrov stated

MOSCOW, October 31. /TASS/. The United States and its allies failed to make the opposition break from terrorists during the two-week-long pause in Russian and Syrian airstrikes in Aleppo and this may signal that they don’t really want this, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

"The nearly two-week-long pause in the flights of aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Air Force should have been enough to carry out this separation," Lavrov said. "If this does not happen, then our previous assessments need to be revised somehow."

"If earlier we said that it seemed that the US and its allies were unable or did not want to separate the moderate (opposition) from Jabhat al-Nusra, then now we should say already that they do not really want to do this," Lavrov explained.

The Russian top diplomat noted that "a very serious conversation continues, including between the military." "We hope that the self-preservation instinct will prevail as cozying up to terrorists and trying to use them for one’s own goals has never led to anything good."

"In the end, these terrorists pointed their guns at those who tried to tame them. The Americans probably know this better than anyone else," Lavrov said. 

Gunmen unwilling to leave Aleppo will be considered accomplices of terrorists

Gunmen from the armed opposition units who do not want to separate from the Al-Nusra Front and leave eastern Aleppo make themselves the accomplices of terrorists and a legal target in line with the UN Security Council’s decisions, Sergey Lavrov said pointed out.

"Once again we urge our Western partners and partners in the region who have direct contacts and direct influence on various opposition groups to immediately demand that they leave the territory and break from Jabhat Al-Nusra so that we focus on the fight against terrorism," Lavrov said. "If this does not happen then in fact they make themselves accomplices of Jabhat Al-Nusra and thus are a legal target in accordance with those decisions made by the UN Security Council."

The minister recalled the claims of Western partners that there are just two or three hundred terrorists from the Al-Nusra Front (outlawed in Russia) in eastern Aleppo and the other several thousand are members of the moderate opposition. "We have shared our assessments several times naming all groups of gunmen who are now in eastern Aleppo and who are directly subordinated to Jabhat Al-Nusra, according to our data," he said.

Lavrov voiced doubt that 200 or 300 terrorists could have carried out so many shellings of civilian facilities. "This once again makes us understand that anyway all other gunmen who are in eastern Aleppo voluntarily or not are accomplices of Jabhat Al-Nusra. If they do not take part in these combat actions directly then in any case they associate themselves with it," he stressed.