Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, his Iranian and Syrian counterparts, Javad Zarif and Walid Muallem have commented on the situation in Syria during a joint press conference in Moscow.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the fight against terrorism should continue and the warring sides should return to peaceful reconciliation.
During a joint conference with his Iranian and Syrian counterparts, Javad Zarif and Walid Muallem, Lavrov said that Moscow and Tehran support Syria’s sovereignty, the fight against terrorism and the restoration of the country’s economy, stating that Moscow, Tehran and Damascus agree that the Syrian peaceful settlement has no alternatives.
He reiterated that neither Russian, nor Syrian warplanes have been conducting operations in Syria’s Aleppo for ten days. Lavrov said that Russia hoped that the humanitarian pause in Aleppo would be used by the United States to separate terrorists from Syrian armed groups.
“We hoped that humanitarian pauses and the stop of airstrikes will be used by our American partners to convince the so-called moderate opposition to separate from al-Nusra Front and Jabhat Fatah ash-Sham, which are in fact those who lead all groups of armed opposition in eastern Aleppo. Unfortunately, such a separation has not happened again. Moreover terrorists have closed the exit from the city via humanitarian corridors for civilians.”
Moscow does not expect that the US will implement its obligation and finally separate terrorists and Syrian gunmen, he added, stating that US Secretary of State John Kerry himself said that if Syrian gunmen do not separate from al-Nusra Front terrorists, they will become a legal target for airstrikes.
The foreign minister commented on the attack on a school in Syria’s Idlib that claimed over 20 lives. He said that Western data, accusing Moscow and Damascus of striking the school is fabricated.
Lavrov urged the UN “not to listen to the hysterical campaign of lies regarding what is currently happening in Aleppo in the humanitarian sphere.” “We could not ignore, to say the least, not professional enough work of UN humanitarian missions. Their inaction allowed the so-called local council in eastern Aleppo to disrupt the medical evacuation, on which they themselves insisted. We are disappointed that UN humanitarian missions representatives’ statements to the public looked like attempts to create a cover for politicized, unworthy ideas.”
The Russian minister said that “the humanitarian tragedy of the Syrian people are being used by outside players for PR and achievement of own goal, including their financial interests.”
Lavrov said that some “foreign players” use the Syrian conflict to achieve own goals. He emphasized that any aid to terrorists is prohibited and Moscow will insist on this rule in the United Nations, including during contacts with the United States.
“Prevention of terrorism financing is not somebody’s whim, it is a request of the UNSC. This is stated in resolutions. Any financing, including from abroad, is prohibited by the UN Security Council. And we will insist on the implementation of these requirements, including during our contacts with the US-led coalition member states,” the Russian diplomat stressed.
The foreign minister commented on the operation to retake Mosul from the so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ terrorist group, saying that both Russia and Iraq are interested to take measures to stop militants from fleeing to Syria from the Iraqi city.
“We are interested to take measures together with Iraqi colleagues to prevent exodus of terrorists with weapons and vehicles from Mosul to Syria, which will of course lead to the escalation of the situation in Syria. We think it is important to prevent that, we will discuss this issue with the United States and other members of their coalition.”
He added that Moscow sees no difference between the situations in Syria’s Aleppo and Iraq’s Mosul. He said that amid the Mosul operation, the work of the Baghdad Information Center created by Russia, Syria, Iran and Iraq has become more critical.
During the presser, Muallem slammed the US-led coalition purportedly fighting ISIL, saying the alliance has never been fighting terrorism despite its claims.
He said the Washington-led campaign was in fact encouraging ISIL terrorists to move from Iraq’s Mosul to Syria’s Raqqah.
Mosul and Raqqa have served as the main ISIL bases in the Middle East over the past years. Iraqi and Syrian armed forces are engaged in large-scale military offensive to drive the terror group from the two cities.
Zarif, in turn, described the talks in Moscow as “very productive,” saying Iran and Russia have developed “very close” relations in different areas.
Commenting on the situation in Syria, the top Iranian diplomat said Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be protected, adding that it is up to the Syrian nation to determine its own destiny and that the voice of the Syrians must be recognized.
He further highlighted the need for a political settlement of the crisis, adding that Tehran backs the resumption of peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition.
The Iranian minister called for a ceasefire in Syria, joint battles against terror groups as well as efforts to facilitate aid delivery to Syrian civilians in besieged areas.
He said the global community must unite in the battle against terrorism, which poses a threat not only to Syria, but the entire world.
Zarif added that supporting terrorism would serve the interest of no one, warning that the terror groups would eventually “bite the hands that feed them.”
The Syrian foreign minister further said his country would continue cooperation with Iran and Russia in efforts to eradicate terrorism.
Muallem described the atmosphere of the talks in Russia as “positive” and “very comfortable.”
“We in Syria have become convinced of the sincerity of the Russian and Iranian efforts in helping us rout terrorism,” he added.