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Russia, Iran and Syria vow to countinue war on terrorism

Sergey Lavrov says the US missile strike on Syria was aimed to undermine the peace process in the country
Syrian, Russian and Iranian foreign ministers, Walid Muallem, Sergey Lavrov and Mohammad Javad Zarif  Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS
Syrian, Russian and Iranian foreign ministers, Walid Muallem, Sergey Lavrov and Mohammad Javad Zarif
© Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

MOSCOW, April 14. /TASS/. Moscow, Tehran and Damascus will continue jointly fighting terrorism in Syria, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said after talks with his Russian and Iranian counterparts on Friday.

"I’m grateful to my friends in Iran and in Russia for the support," he said.

"I confirm that we’ll continue cleaning the Syrian land from terrorism," he said.

"Yesterday, we discussed with [Russian Foreign Minister] Sergey Lavrov the build-up of the efficiency of the war on terrorism, and also the prospects of the support, which Russia is providing [to Syria] in various fields," Muallem said.

"I also discussed with [Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad] Javad Zarif the same themes today," he said. 

Javad Zarif said Washington’s unilateral steps on the international arena are unacceptable.

"It is very important that everyone understands that unilateral US steps in the international community are already unacceptable," Zarif said. "We are still suffering from the results of those unilateral steps, which were taken over the past decades."

"Today we once again confirmed that unilateral steps are unacceptable and international investigation needs to be conducted to establish the facts (on situation in Syria’s Khan Shaykhun)," Zarif said. "I believe this is a very clear message for international cooperation (in investigating the alleged chemical attack)."

"Unfortunately, the US undertook a military aggression against Syria before investigating the (Khan Sheikhoun) incident," the diplomat said. "This indicates, above all, that the US does not want the use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun to be established by the world community. They wanted to use this bitter incident in their internal political events."

"When Syria was accused of using chemical weapons on April 4, Iran immediately demanded an international investigation into the incident," the minister went on to say. "Tehran said that it is necessary to establish what happened in Khan Sheikhoun." He also noted that the US, in a bid to hamper an unbiased investigation, assumes an ambivalent attitude regarding the use of weapons of mass destruction.

US attack on Syria

Lavrov said the US missile strikes last week on an airfield in Syria was aimed to undermine the peace process in the country and to change the regime, but the attempt failed. He stressed the US must respect sovereignty of Syria. 

The top diplomats of Russia, Iran and Syria condemned the US attack on the airbase in Homs province.

"This is an act of aggression and major violation of the international law and UN Charter," Lavrov said. "We urge the US and their allies to respect Syria’s sovereignty.".

"Such aggressive actions are obviously aimed at undermining the peace process, which was unanimously approved by a resolution of the UN Security Council and stipulates that only the people of Syria will be determining the future of their country," Lavrov said.

"Such action clearly targeted a possibility of deviating from this basic concept and find more excuses for changing the regime," the top Russian diplomat said. "Attempts of this kind will never be a success. It will never happen."

According to the Russian foreign minister, Moscow would be insisting on the complete implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 with no exceptions to anyone, including an all-embracing respect regarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.

"It is obvious for everyone, that the violation of the international law is inadmissible," Lavrov added.

Chemical incident

Russia is curious why OPCW specialists never visit opposition-controlled areas in Syria to investigate incidents, he added. 

"Whenever charges against the Syrian government are brought up, the OPCW’s reaction follows within days. They voice concern," Lavrov said. "But they never go to examine the sites of incidents that occur in the territories held by the armed opposition on the excuse they will not be in safety there. We believe that such distance analysis of events is impermissible."

"We insist on a thorough and unbiased investigation of the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun on April 4," Lavrov said, adding that the probe should be organized under the control of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

"The attempts to block the proposals by Russia and Iran to establish an independent commission for an unbiased and objective investigation suggest only that those who are taking such attempts have unclean conscience," the foreign minister said.

"The US counterparts in recent days have been saying for some reason Russia is a guarantor of Syria’s chemical disarmament, as if the United States has no bearing on that at all," he said.

"It should be remembered that in response to Syria’s readiness to join the Chemical Weapons Convention and to dispose of all of its chemical weapons stockpiles Russia and the United States came out with an initiative to arrange for that process," Lavrov said.

He added that "within record-tight deadlines the parameters of that procedure were agreed on and a little more than one year later the OPCW said in its report that the whole declared amount of chemical weapons had been eliminated."

"This is a hard fact. It was stated in bold print in the OPCW report that was presented to the United Nations," he said.

"Information and facts obtained by the Syrian government and the Russian Aerospace Forces that the opposition used chemical weapons, including samples collected on the ground, and also most recently in Aleppo, are sent to the OPCW’s Secretariat," Lavrov said, noting that all the rules for their transportation are observed.

"Some three months ago, we sent another batch of these samples linked to the use of chemical weapons in East Aleppo," Lavrov noted. "So far, there hasn’t been any response from the Secretariat."

Muallem said "the OPCW has a mission, which is working but in Turkey: they are collecting ‘samples’ in Turkey. We won’t agree to the conduct of such a probe because it benefits American aggression."

As the Syrian foreign minister said, Syria is ready to provide assistance to the probe that would be held on the scene of the incident.

"But the United States does not want an honest investigation of the incident, which could be held in Khan Sheikhoun and at the Shayrat aerodrome," he added.

Russia to support Damascus

Lavrov said Russia will go ahead with all required support Syria may need in its efforts to restore peace.

"We will go ahead with all required support for the government of Syria in restoring peace, the economy and civilian infrastructures and for addressing other acute humanitarian problems of the affected Syrian population," Lavrov said.

He added that during their trilateral consultations the foreign ministers "paid special attention to the need for building up joint work to wipe out the hotbed of terrorism in the territory of Syria."

"We are for pooling efforts by the entire international community in order to create a wide anti-terrorist front," Lavrov said.