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Russia cautions US not to ignore Turkey’s position on Syrian Kurds, says Lavrov

Russia does not rule out that the United States intends to stay in Syria for a long time, if not forever, Lavrov says

MOSCOW, February 13. /TASS/. Russia considers the US approach of completely ignoring Turkey’s stance towards the Kurds in Syria as unwise, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.

"We all know Turkey’s attitude towards Kurdish militia units. Turkey’s position can be regarded in various ways, but this position is reality. Acting while completely ignoring this position is unwise, to say the least. We can see the results of this unwisdom in [Syria’s] Afrin area as well (the Turkish General Staff has been conducting Operation Olive Branch against Kurdish units there since January 20 - TASS)," the top diplomat stressed.

Russia does not rule out that the United States intends to stay in Syria for a long time, if not forever, he went on.  According to Russia’s top diplomat, the Americans say their presence in Syria is necessary not only to solve military issues, "but until there is a stable political process there that should end with the transition of power that would be acceptable to all, that is, regime change." "In general, we suspect that the United States wants to stay there for a long time, if not forever," the minister noted. 

Washington earlier stated that the only goal of the presence of the US armed forces in Syria is defeating the Islamic State (IS, outlawed in Russia - TASS) terror organization, the Russian foreign minister reiterated. "It is now clear that ISIS (the former name of IS - TASS) has failed as a caliphate; this project has failed chiefly due to the actions of the Syrian army supported by the Russian Aerospace Force. However, we do not deny certain contribution of the American coalition to this achievement," Lavrov said.

"We are now hearing other explanations on the presence in Syria from our American counterparts: they say that this presence should be preserved until not just military tasks are completed, but a stable political process is established that should end with a transition of power that would be acceptable to all, meaning to the US, that is, a regime change (of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad)," the minister noted.

Washington is trying to create some quasi-state on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River in Syria and these steps are dangerous, he added. "To my mind, the Americans are trying to act through dangerous unilateral steps rather than by way of thoroughly developing general accord," Lavrov said.

"These steps increasingly look like part of the course towards cresting some quasi-state on a large part of Syrian territory - on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River up to the Iraqi border," Russia’s top diplomat said.

"This increasingly looks like a course towards disrupting Syria’s territorial integrity," the Russian foreign minister noted.

"Local bodies of power independent of Damascus are being established on this territory and financial resources are being channeled there for the functioning of these bodies of power. Law-enforcement structures that are being created there are being furnished with armament," Russia’s top diplomat said.

"We repeatedly asked these questions but we have not received a comprehensible answer, except for the general slogan: ‘Don’t worry, we stand for Syria’s territorial integrity,’" the Russian foreign minister noted.

"But in actual fact, everything looks differently," Lavrov said.

"I very much hope that after a powerful impulse of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi, the UN that oversees the implementation of Resolution No. 2254 and the efforts to establish inclusive inter-Syrian dialogue will in its actions fully take into account the need to cut short any steps of external players, which are leading towards the disruption of the principles of settlement sealed in Resolution No. 2254," Russia’s top diplomat said.

"Russia has supported all along direct participation of Kurds in all efforts on the Syrian settlement and continues to support it. Kurds are an integral part of the Syrian society," the minister said.

"Resolution 2254 [of the UN Security Council] is based on this fact, demanding to adjust the coordination process with participation of the government, the whole opposition and the whole Syrian society," Lavrov noted. "So, without participation of Kurds we will not be able to finally and stably settle the Ukrainian crisis."

"However, it is necessary to advance towards this inclusive settlement involving Kurds through reaching a common agreement between both all intra-Syrian players and all external participants of the processes that are going on in Syria and around it," he stressed.