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Russia, Turkey, Iran vow to continue cooperating to eliminate Islamic State

The meeting was aimed at summing up the results of the two years of Astana process

ASTANA, March 16. /TASS/. The guarantors of the Syrian ceasefire - Russia, Turkey and Iran - will continue cooperating to eliminate the Islamic State terror group (outlawed in Russia) and other terrorist groups, the three countries’ foreign ministers said in a joint statement adopted at a meeting in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana on Friday.

The meeting was aimed at summarizing the outcome of the two years of the Astana process on Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Iranian top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu "reaffirmed their determination to continue their cooperation in order to ultimately eliminate DAESH/ISIL, Nusra Front and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaeda or DAESH/ISIL as designated by the UN Security Council in Syria and to prevent their relocation to other countries and regions."

The three top diplomats also "welcomed the UN Security Council resolution 2401 in response to the grave humanitarian situation all across Syria, including in Eastern Ghouta, Yarmouk, Foua and Kefraya, Idlib Governorate, Northern Hama Governorate, Rukhban and Raqqa."

They "expressed their readiness to continue efforts with a view to implement the provisions of the above-mentioned resolution, aimed at strengthening the ceasefire regime and improving the humanitarian situation all across the Syrian Arab Republic, and called upon all parties to fully support this process, inter alia by sending additional humanitarian aid, facilitating humanitarian mine action, restoring basic infrastructure assets, including social and economic facilities, and preserving historical heritage."

Besides, Lavrov, Zarif and Cavusoglu "underscored the need to ensure rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to areas affected by the ongoing conflict." The parties "expressed their concern with the ongoing violations of the ceasefire regime, and declared that, as guarantors of the ceasefire regime, they would step up their efforts to ensure observance of the respective agreements," the statement added

In addition, the three foreign ministers "called upon the representatives of the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the opposition committed to the sovereignty, independence, unity, territorial integrity and non-fractional character of Syria as well as the international community to support the work of the Constitutional Committee."

According to the statement, the three countries "welcomed the convening of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi on 30 January 2018 as a major contribution giving momentum to the process of the political settlement under the UN auspices and reaffirmed their commitment to the results of the Sochi Congress, especially to form the Constitutional Committee and to facilitate the beginning of its work in Geneva with the assistance of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria as soon as possible."

At the same time, the Russian, Iranian and Turkish top diplomats "took note of the state of implementation of the Memorandum of 4 May 2017 on the creation of the de-escalation areas in Syria, reaffirmed their determination to continue implementing its provisions with respect to all four de-escalation areas and also emphasized that under no circumstances the creation of the de-escalation areas should undermine the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic."

On December 6, 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the total defeat of the Islamic State terror group on both banks of the Euphrates River in Syria. On December 11, he ordered the Russian Defense Ministry to begin the withdrawal of troops from Syria. On December 22, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to President Putin that his order had been implemented. However, three Russian military police units still remain in Syria, the Russian Center for Reconciliation and the Hmeimim and Tartus bases continue to operate.