US may seek longer stay in Syria to create quasi-state: Russia
Iran Press TV
Tue Feb 13, 2018 03:18PM
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned of a possible plan by the United States to continue its military presence in Syria for a long term in an attempt to create a "quasi-state" in the eastern areas of the country.
Speaking at a press conference Tuesday, Lavrov criticized the US for its "completely different" position with regard to its future military presence in Syria, adding, "We have a suspicion…. that the United States wants to stay there for a long time, if not forever."
"The Americans, in my opinion … are trying to act by dangerous unilateral steps. And by the way, these steps look more and more like part of a line for creating a certain quasi-state on a large part of the Syrian territory – on the eastern bank of the Euphrates and up to the Iraqi border," he added.
Moscow and Washington support opposing sides in the Syrian conflict. Russia assists the Syrian government and has been carrying out an aerial bombardment campaign against terrorist positions in Syria.
The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.
The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of destroying Daesh.
Lavrov warned that the US policies "undermine the territorial integrity of Syria," expressing hope that the UN will prevent "external players" from undermining the Security Council's road map for a peace process in the country.
The Russian foreign minister pointed to the ongoing international efforts to hold peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition and reaffirmed Moscow's support for participation of Kurdish factions in the process.
Russia, Iran, and Turkey have been organizing peace talks for Syria in the Kazakh capital of Astana since January 2017. Together, the three countries have been acting as guarantor states for the peace process.
Capitalizing on the achievements of Astana, Russia on January 29-30 convened a high-profile meeting on Syria – the Syrian Congress of National Dialog – in the Russian port city of Sochi.
One Syrian opposition faction boycotted that meeting, and some non-political groups opposed to Damascus later accused the UN of "rewarding" Russia "upfront" by dispatching Special Envoy de Mistura to the event before securing concessions from Russia and the Syrian government.
Russia and Iran are Syrian government allies. Turkey is an ally of the Syrian opposition. The collective efforts of the three countries, including the brokering of agreements that have significantly reduced fighting in Syria, have made an impact on the ground in the Arab country.
The Sochi conference took place just days after the ninth round of UN-led Syria talks failed to achieve tangible results. That round was exceptionally held in the Austrian capital, Vienna, instead of its usual venue of Geneva.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|