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Russia ready to study UN Security Council’s resolution on Syria ceasefire — Lavrov

Moscow is concerned over humanitarian situation in Syria, the top diplomat says

BELGRADE, February 22. /TASS/. Russia is ready to study the UN Security Council resolution on the ceasefire in Syria, but suggests not including Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terror organizations (both of them outlawed in Russia) in this regime, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday.

"We are ready to study the resolution that we were proposed to adopt, but we offered a very strict wording that would say that the ceasefire regime does not cover ISIS (a former name for IS), Jabhat al-Nusra and the groups that support them and regularly shell the residential neighborhoods of Damascus," the minister said.

"Unfortunately, our Western partners don’t agree to excluding the terrorists from the ceasefire so unambiguously, which also invites questions,’ the diplomat added.

Moscow is concerned over how humanitarian issues are discussed, he went on. "It is difficult to object to appeals to a ceasefire so that the civilian population could get a break, so that humanitarian aid and medicines could be delivered and assistance rendered to people who find themselves in a difficult situation," the foreign minister said.

The diplomat drew attention to heightened tensions and rhetoric over the developments in Eastern Ghouta (Damascus suburbs).

"Our Western colleagues have an increased focus on this region. Residential neighborhoods of Damascus, the city center have been repeatedly shelled from that area for at least the past two years," Lavrov went on to say, adding that "the compound of the Russian Embassy has repeatedly come under mortar fire, and quite recently - the compound of the Russian trade mission".

"Each time such terrorist attacks come from Eastern Ghouta, we know that behind them is Jabhat al-Nusra and extremist groups cooperating with it," he said. "We have appealed to the Security Council to make a principled evaluation of these unacceptable terror attacks, but each time our American and European partners have dodged this reaction," the diplomat said. "This suggests certain thoughts," he added.

Lavrov reiterated that earlier, military from the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Warring Parties in Syria "offered the militants to withdraw from Eastern Ghouta amicably, the way the evacuation of militants with their families from Eastern Aleppo was arranged in due time". "Jabhat al-Nusra and those who cooperate with it categorically rejected the offer and continue shelling the city from their positions, keeping Eastern Ghouta civilians as a human shield," Lavrov added.

"A combination of factors makes us think, that the aim of those who want to pass this resolution (on the situation in Eastern Ghouta and humanitarian pause) now without taking into account our essential amendments, is not to help the civilians, but to shift the focus in the Syrian issue from the need to urgently launch the Geneva talks basing on success of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Syria, to demonizing the Syrian government in order to advance the so-called Plan B to overthrow the regime (of President Bashar Assad) in violation of UN Security Council resolution 2254," Lavrov said.

"If our arguments are ignored once again, we have no other choice but to be reinforced in the view that the aim of the authors of this initiative is to once again shift the attention to Damascus, cover up terrorist groups," the diplomat said.

On Wednesday, Russia suggested that the United Nations Security Council hold an emergency meeting to discuss the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Eastern Ghouta. According to Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya, the meeting will allow Security Council members to present their views of the situation and ways to improve it. The meeting is scheduled to take place on Thursday.