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Russian diplomat calls US claims about its victory over IS in Syria 'groundless'

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman comments on Donald Trump’s claims the United States has achieved victory over terrorists in Syria
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova Mikhail Japaridze/TASS
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova
© Mikhail Japaridze/TASS

MOSCOW, December 13. /TASS/. US President Donald Trump’s claims the United States has achieved victory over terrorists in Syria are groundless and illogical, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.

"These statements are limitlessly illogical and groundless," she said. "Statements made by spokespersons of US official bodies of power never stop making U-turns."

"One question has to be asked, though. Is all this being said for the sake of some political activity, for attracting the electorate, or is it the official stance of the United States?" she added.

US President Donald Trump has more than once claimed that the coalition’s operations in Syria have been successful. Speaking in the White House on December 12 before putting his signature to a bill on the financing and main guidelines of the US Department of Defense in 2018 fiscal year Trump reiterated the claim the United States took the credit for victory over the Islamic State.

"We won in Syria, we won in Iraq," he said.

Moscow is not accepting the US-led coalition’s pretexts to stay in Syria as this violates the Arab Republic’s sovereignty, she went on.

"Russia’s presence in Syria is legitimate and in full compliance with the international law," Zakharova said. "The excuses for the coalition’s steps, which violate Syria’s sovereignty, cannot be accepted, especially when they are accompanied by remarks that the Islamic State (IS, terror group, outlawed in Russia - TASS) was not totally defeated in Syria, and, if it was, the main credit goes to the US, the coalition led by it, the Western world and so on."

The diplomat stressed that "the decisive contribution to ensuring victory over terrorists in Syria had been made by the Russian task force, which brilliantly accomplished its task, helped the Syrian army to defend Syria as a sovereign independent state, and this has been recognized by international experts."

Zakharova recalled that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered to begin the withdrawal of a sizeable part of Russian troops from Syria. "However, our military servicemen retain their presence on Syrian soil and are ready, if necessary, to foil terrorists’ attempts to regroup and replenish their losses in manpower and equipment."

Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 11 visited the Hmeymim airbase in Syria to meet with Russian military personnel and issue orders to downscale the Russian military contingent. Two logistic facilities of the Russian armed forces - in Tartus and Hmeymim - will operate in that country on the permanent basis, he added.

The Russian military group has been in Syria since September 2015. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Aerospace Force planes in that country flew 6,956 sorties and helicopters, more than 7,000 sorties to have eliminated 32,000 militants, 394 tanks and 12,000 pieces of other military equipment.

Humanitarian aid

Moscow believes that the procedure of aid deliveries across the border into Syria undermines the country’s sovereignty, Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.

"The United Nations Security Council is currently considering the extension of a special procedure, established back in 2014, on the UN’s humanitarian aid deliveries into Syria across the neighboring states’ borders," she said. "According to Russia’s assessment, this procedure is in fact set to cause Syria’s breakup, which runs counter to the UN Security Council’s resolution and agreements negotiated in various international formats."

The procedure was imposed "amid utterly different circumstances in the conflict and had an emergency manner."

"It has been undermining and is still undermining Syria’s sovereignty and creates an extremely unwelcome precedent in international attitudes to humanitarian aid," the Russian diplomat underlined.

Russia is ready "for joint work to determine the most optimal ways for terminating the procedure - which has attained its objective - of trans-border deliveries of humanitarian consignments with minimum damage to those in need."

Moscow believes that "a transparent mechanism notifying the UN Security Council of who the relief aid is being delivered to and how much of it" should be set up, Zakharova said.

"Russia has submitted relevant proposals to the UN Security Council. Along with this, we are convinced that simple technical extension of this mechanism without any substantial amendments fail to meet new realities in Syria," she said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman reminded that "the procedure was introduced by Resolution 2165 of the UN Security Council amid the violent stage of the conflict when the Syrian government had lost control of the country’s swathes so there merely did not exist any other ways of providing humanitarian assistance to the civilian population in those areas."

"The resolution authorized humanitarian access across border checkpoints of Turkey, Jordan and Iran without receiving consent from Damascus’ authorities but notifying them in advance," Zakharova said. "Apart from that, an inspection mechanism was established to monitor the humanitarian nature of the consignments transported into Syria by UN bodies. However, [this mechanism] was not tasked to oversee distribution of the aid within its territory where unfortunately it used to get into the hands of armed units fighting against the government.".