‘To save lives, one should be pragmatic’: Lavrov promises peaceful practical steps...

‘To save lives, one should be pragmatic’: Lavrov promises peaceful practical steps on Syria



Russia believes that resolving the Syrian crisis requires practical efforts from all actors that have real influence on the ground, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told CNN, adding that a peaceful resolution to the situation in Aleppo is still possible.

“We want to have a meeting of the countries that have direct influence on what is going on on the ground in Syria, either by being there … or through financing and supplying arms to the opposition,” Lavrov told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, adding that it would be a meeting “in a narrow format” involving Russia, the US and “some regional powers.”

The diplomat also confirmed that the meeting, which will also be attended by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is scheduled for the coming Saturday. He said he hopes that it will be “a business-like discussion and not some general assembly-like debate” that would allow the sides to launch a real dialog based on the US-Russian agreement on Syria reached in mid-September.

Lavrov believes the involvement of regional players is necessary as the US is apparently not as influential on the ground as it claims.

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“The key problem is the total inability of the US and the other members of the US-led coalition to separate the moderates from Al Nusra [Front],” Lavrov said, adding that the US, including CIA chief John Brennan, assured Russia in February that it needed two weeks to separate the moderate rebels from Al Nusra and “they never did it.”

Russia got “an impression that what the US and [their allies] really want is to spare Al Nusra [Front] and to keep it in case they decide to use a ‘Plan B’,” the minister noted once again.

“I do not want to suspect the US of encouraging terrorism but what they do in the case of Al Nusra makes me very suspicious.”

“We launched the ceasefire only to see the US coalition attacking the positions of the Syrian army three days after it was launched,” Lavrov said, referring to the US-led coalition airstrike on Syrian army positions in the eastern Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor besieged by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), which took place on September 17.

“They said it was a mistake, but I read [the] statement of official Pentagon representative, Colonel Thompson, who said that this strike was prepared for two days and was based on very good intelligence,” Lavrov said. “Immediately after this mistaken strike, Islamic State launched an offensive in Deir ez-Zor.”

Speaking about the situation in Aleppo, Lavrov said that Russia still “strongly supports the initiative by [UN Special Representative for Syria] Staffan de Mistura, who proposed that Al Nusra fighters should be [allowed] to leave eastern Aleppo with the weapons ‘in dignity’” along with the moderate rebels that want to “stay with them.” Rebels who want to stay in Aleppo, meanwhile, should join the cessation of hostilities, he said.

“We are still convinced that this plan of de Mistura’s should be given a chance and we are working on it with the people on the ground,” Lavrov said, stressing at the same time, that “otherwise you cannot really expect the army of Syria to stop fighting Al Nusra, which is trying to use civilians as human shields.”

“It is civilians we think about when we support de Mistura’s plan,” the minister said, adding that Russia “tries to take all necessary precautions” in its operations in Aleppo and “advises the Syrian army to be very [precise] when targeting Al Nusra.”

He also once again dismissed accusations that Russia has committed war crimes. “All the statements have to be verified,” he said, adding that no evidence proving these accusations has ever been presented to Russia.

Source: Word News