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Russia’s Look At Current Situation In Syria

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Russia's Look At Current Situation In Syria

Turkish soldiers watch as smoke billows from the border town of Ras al-Ain on October 12, 2019 [Nazeer Al-khatib/AFP]

A summary on the current situation in Syria provided by a spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry during the November 28 press briefing (source):

In Syria tensions persist in the territories that are not controlled by Damascus.

In Idlib, the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorist alliance continues to shell the positions of Syrian government troops and nearby residential areas more than 20 times per day and is trying to seize new territories. In the de-escalation zone, locals increasingly often stage rallies against terrorist outrage but the militants cruelly suppress any protests. Obviously, the Idlib problem cannot be resolved as long as the terrorist groups qualified as such by the UN Security Council continue operating there.

Efforts to stabilise the situation in line with the Russian-Turkish Memorandum of October 22, 2019 continue in the country’s northeast. Russia and Turkey jointly patrol the Syrian-Turkish border on a regular basis. In addition, efforts are taken to reduce tensions along the perimeter of the zone of Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring.

However, the situation to the east of the Euphrates has become much more complicated due to the revival of the ISIS sleeping cells and the growth of terrorist attacks against Kurdish units. The actions of the United States, which decided to remain at the oil fields and rob Syria of its national wealth, are not conducive to firm stability and security in northeast Syria, either. We regularly comment on this reckless disregard for international law by a military-political group that is supported, among others, by the US armed forces. Such conduct has nothing to do with logic because, on the one hand, Washington keeps casting doubt on the legitimacy of Syrian government’s actions and, on the other, is acting in total disregard of international law.

We consistently advocate the restoration of Syria’s unity and territorial integrity on the basis of dialogue between Damascus and the Kurds, as well as other ethnic groups to the east of the Euphrates (Arab tribes, Assyrians, Armenians and others). The goal is to overcome internal differences and ensure reliable consolidation of Syrian society. We proceed from the need for fair account and protection of the interests of all ethnic and religious groups in Syria, without any discrimination or suppression of rights.

In addition, we note that the Syrian Constitutional Committee continues its work. The second session of the Committee’s drafting commission opened in Geneva on November 25. The commission consists of 45 representatives of the Government, the opposition and civic society.

We consider it necessary to support the process of political settlement of the Syrian crisis by invigorating comprehensive international humanitarian assistance to that country without any politicisation or discrimination. In particular, this will facilitate voluntary and safe return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes. Over 476,000 refugees and 1.3 million IDPs have already returned home since the launch of the relevant Russian initiative in July 2018.

On December 10-11, Nur-Sultan will host the 14th international meeting on Syria in the Astana format. It will be attended by representatives of the guarantor countries (Russia, Iran and Turkey), delegations of the Syrian Government and the Syrian opposition, observers (UN, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon) and experts of the UNHCR and the ICRC. By tradition, the agenda of the meeting covers a broad range of issues, including the discussion of the situation on the ground, ways to improve the humanitarian situation, assistance in the return of Syrians, steps to promote the political process and confidence measures, including the release of persons held by force.

We believe that to reach a sustainable and long-term settlement in Syria it is important to normalise the situation around it and to break its artificial international isolation. In this context we would like to mention regular visits of different delegations to Damascus. Last week, a German parliamentary delegation visited the Syrian capital. Its head Frank Pasemann came out in favour of settling the conflict in Syria without outside interference and supported the resumption of cooperation between Berlin and Damascus. In addition, the Damascus Diplomatic Club conducted a charity bazaar for the first time since 2011, which was attended by representatives of 12 countries, including Russia, Argentina, Bulgaria, Brazil, Pakistan and Sudan.

The signing of cooperation agreements between the Hermitage Museum and the Directorate-General for Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) of Syria took place on November 25 as part of the visit by Hermitage General Director Mikhail Piotrovsky to Damascus. The document provides for the restoration of Syrian cultural landmarks.

Also on November 25, the National Museum of Damascus hosted the Two Palmiras exhibition, which showcased the photos of architectural landmarks in St Petersburg and Palmira. As you know, Russia is working hard to restore the cultural and historical heritage of Palmira. The whole world was horrified by the enormous damage did by the terrorists to this historic site – a landmark of our civilisation. We hope that UNESCO and other relevant agencies will support Russia’s efforts.

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