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Russia hopes Syria will be liberated from terrorists in one or two months

The fight against Islamic State is at the final stage, says Russia's chief negotiator

ASTANA, October 31. /TASS/. Moscow hopes that Syria will be completely liberated from Islamic State (a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia) terrorists in a couple of months, Russian president’s special envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev said on Tuesday.

"The situation on the ground is developing rather swiftly. The fight against Islamic State is at the final stage. We all hope that at least in one or two months there will be no [Islamic State] armed groups in Syria and there will be no settlements used by this terrorist group as its strongholds," he said at a news conference in Astana. 

He said it is time to think about political settlement. "I would like to note that the Russian side sees the necessity to look for options of launching national dialogue and for these ends has announced an initiative to organize a congress of Syrian national dialogue," he said.

According to the Russian chief negotiator, various options for a venue of such a forum have been offered. "We would like to organize such an important intra-Syrian forum in Syria. But taking into account the current situation, which does not make it possible to ensure proper security, it was decided to hold this forum in Sochi (on November 18)," Lavrentyev said.

There is a lot of distorted information about prisoners exchange in Syria, he went on.

"There has emerged a lot of distorted information which in no way helps to build up trust between the conflicting parties. Various figure are cited: 15,000 women forcibly kept by the central authorities in Syrian prisons or 100,000 arrested militants who are kept there," he said.

He called to show "certain restraint" on this issue and "adequately react to such unverified reports."

"It is not in the interests of those who are really kept in prisons, both in the government-controlled territory and in territories controlled by the opposition," he stressed, adding that participants in the intra-Syrian talks will continue work on a document on forcibly kept people and exchange of bodies of those killed.

Syrian national dialog

Moscow hopes that participants in the congress of the Syrian national dialogue in Sochi will discuss issues related to the country’s new constitution and elections, he went on. 

"We hope this forum will make it possible to gather all at a negotiating table to discuss what is to be done in future," he told a news conference. "How to launch a constitutional reform, what is to be done to waste no time and adopt a new constitution and hold UN-monitored parliamentary and presidential elections. It would be very useful."

"Concerning such an important issue as national dialogue, it is unadvisable and unjustified to advance any preliminary conditions for one’s participation," he said. "Because the Syrian central government can also come out with preliminary conditions. So, all demands that may be rather inflated should be put aside in order to go forward and try to prove one’s point of view."