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Russian diplomat points to decreasing violence in Syria

Moscow has no doubts that some external forces made the Syrian opposition refuse to participate in the Astana talks

MOSCOW, March 16. /TASS/. The Syrian ceasefire has led to a significant decrease in violence, the number of ceasefire violations is limited, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

"We are pleased to note that thanks to the Syrian ceasefire, guaranteed by Russia, Iran and Turkey, violence has significantly decreased," the Russian diplomat said. "The number of ceasefire violations is limited."

"The ceasefire has provided the Syrian troops with an opportunity to focus on fighting the ISIL (the former name of the Islamic State terror group outlawed in Russia)," Zakharova stressed. She added that as a result of a successful offensive carried out by the Syrian government forces, vast areas in the eastern part of the Aleppo Governorate, stretching to the Euphrates River, have been liberated.

Astana talks

The refusal of the Syrian armed opposition to participate in the talks in Kazakhstan’s capital means refusal to tackle the country’s problems, she went on. 

"We regret that the delegation of the Syrian armed opposition showing disrespect for the organizers of the forum (in Astana) and other participants in that event who gathered in the capital of Kazakhstan indulged in speculations around its arrival in Astana," the diplomat noted. "The excuses cited by its leaders are totally unconvincing and unacceptable."

"After all, the objective of any negotiations is to solve the existing problems, and we have repeatedly said that," Zakharova emphasized. "Refusal to take part in the talks means one thing, namely, reluctance to tackle the issues the entire world community has addressed for many years."

"Perhaps, those who pushed the armed Syrian opposition to boycott this event (the Astana talks on Syria), wanted to damage the Astana process as well as the Geneva process. We have no doubts that this decision was imposed on the opposition by some external forces," she said.

Restoration of Palmyra

Moscow welcomes international organizations’ willingness to participate in the restoration of Syria’s Palmyra, hugely damaged by militants of the Islamic State terror group (outlawed in Russia).

"When the city was controlled by militants, the historical sites suffered huge damage," she noted. "The actual damage is yet to be evaluated." "We are pleased to see that various international organizations have expressed their willingness to take part in the future restoration of Palmyra," the Russian diplomat added.

At the same time, in Zakahrova’s words, demining the city is currently a priority.

Over 150 Russian de-miners have arrived in Syria to clear Palmyra from mines, the Russian Defense Ministry’s press service said on Thursday. Besides, 17 units of special equipment have been deployed to Palmyra, the ministry added. Apart from de-miners, a military canine unit has also been sent to Palmyra.