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Lavrov says US continues support to some opposition groups in Syria

The Russian foreign minister doesn't think that the United States’ decision to stop supporting Syrian opposition groups could be seen as a concession to Russia

MOSCOW, July 21. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday he thinks the United States continues to support opposition groups in Syria.

"I understand that the US supports much more groups than just the ones, which were announced as being left without the American weapons," he said in an interview with NBC News.

The Russian foreign minister disagreed with the host who said the United States’ decision to stop supporting Syrian opposition groups could be seen as a concession to Russia. "This decision was made a few weeks before the meeting of G20 [when the two countries’ leaders had their first personal meeting, which among other things focused on the situation in Syria]," he argued.

The Russian top diplomat refrained from commenting Washington’s statements on its cessation of support to a number of groups in Syria, saying only that what matters most is to develop a common approach to the resolution of the Syrian crisis. "We certainly concentrate on the de-escalation zones, which are designed to stop the fighting between the government and the armed opposition. For them not to attack each other, and hopefully for them to concentrate entirely on fighting ISIL (terror organization Islamic State, which is outlawed in Russia). Therefore, the logic of the opposition and the government to sign a ceasefire, to enter into cessation of hostilities arrangement is very much our logic," Lavrov stressed.

Foreign bases to appear in Syria with Syrians’ consent 

Presence of any foreign troops or bases in Syria after the conflict resolution will be legitimate with the Syrians’ consent, Lavrov said.

"After the country has been liberated, after the settlement has been reached to the satisfaction of all the Syrian ethnic, confessional and political groups, the presence of the foreign troops, of foreign bases on the soil of Syria would be only legitimate with the consent of the Syrians themselves," Lavrov said when asked about Russia’s stance on deployment of US bases and checkpoints in north Syria.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s concern about deployment of two Russian bases in Syria whereas the United States are reported to have deployed about a dozen shows double standards, Lavrov said.

"So if a gentleman, who represents a country (that) illegitimately have created ten bases in Syria, is concerned very much about two bases which have been established on the basis of our intergovernmental agreement with a government that is a member of the United Nations, than something is wrong with double standards," he added.

"Not to mention that hundreds and hundreds of military bases of the United States all over the world and all around Russia seemingly do not cause any concern to Mr. Pompeo or anybody else," Lavrov said.

Syria’s government did not ask the US’s help in the fight against terrorists, so the presence of US troops in that country is illegitimate, he said. Russia assumes that this presence is justified by a sole goal, which is the fight against so-called Islamic State and other terrorists.

On Tuesday, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency published a map of Syria with locations of US bases and outposts. The agency said that the US had deployed troops and hardware at two bases and eight outposts in northern Syria held by Kurdish Democratic Union party.