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Diplomat: Over 40% of Syrian southwestern de-escalation zone controlled by terrorists

A Russian diplomat says over 40% of Syria’s southwestern de-escalation zone are still controlled by terrorists, ceasefire talks are underway

UNITED NATIONS, June 25. /TASS/. Over 40% of Syria’s southwestern de-escalation zone are still controlled by terrorist groups. Nevertheless, ceasefire talks are underway with those groups that distant themselves from terrorists, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin said on Monday at the UN Security Council debate on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa.

"I listened attentively and respectfully to all who spoke before me, including esteemed representatives of the United Kingdom and the United States who voiced their concern about what is going on in the southwestern de-escalation zone," he said. "Ceasefire talks are underway in this area with those opposition groups that distant themselves from terrorists. War on terrorists continues."

"However, we regret to say that more than 40% of the territory of this zone are still controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State groups (both outlawed in Russia as terrorist organizations," he noted, adding "uncompromised fight on terrorists in Syria must be continued until they are completely exterminated."

"Russia, like other Astana process guarantor nations, has made a really weighty contribution to the stabilization of the situation in Syria," Vershinin said. "I would like to stress that Russia is firmly committed to its liabilities, including in what concerns cessation of combat operations."

He stressed that now it was time to "focus on the United Nations-brokered political process in Geneva, for which ends constructive efforts of all external players will be needed."

"No one has done more to stop hostilities and bring down violence in Syria than Russia and its Astana process partners. At least, not those countries that are helping illegal arms groups, providing them with weapons and money," the Russian diplomat noted. "Despite its obligations, the United States has done nothing to support anti-terrorism efforts over the year that has elapsed since the establishment of a de-escalation zone in southwestern Syria.".