News ID: 169553
Published: 0631 GMT September 30, 2016

Russia: US protecting Syria terror group

Russia: US protecting Syria terror group

The US is trying to spare a terror group in its attempts to unseat Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, Russia’s foreign minister told the BBC on Friday.

Sergei Lavrov said the US had broken its promise to separate the powerful Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as al-Nusra Front) and other terror groups from foreign-backed militants. Jabhat Fateh al-Sham is linked to Al Qaeda.

Lavrov, who was speaking on the first anniversary of the beginning of the Russian air campaign in Syria, defended the bombardment of Aleppo by Russian and Syrian forces.

“They [the US] pledged solemnly to take as a priority an obligation to separate the opposition from Nusra,” he said.

“They still, in spite of many repeated promises and commitments, are not able, or not willing to do this and we have more and more reasons to believe that from the very beginning the plan was to spare Nusra and to keep it just in case for Plan B or Stage Two, when it would be time to change the regime.”

A recent US-Russian deal was meant to lead to joint Russian-US airstrikes on the Daesh terror group and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

But many armed groups that the US backs have formed a strategic alliance with the more powerful Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, and now fight alongside it.

Lavrov said: “We believe that the Russian-American deal must be put into effect. For this, the only thing which is necessary is to separate the opposition from Nusra. If it is supported by the United States, not on paper but in real life, then we will insist on an immediate cessation of hostilities.”

Lavrov insisted Russia is helping President Assad’s forces to “fight terrorists”.

And he accused the West of staying quiet about civilian suffering in Aleppo when it was expecting the city to fall to the militants after the Nusra group moved in and cut supply lines to the civilian population.

“We had many pauses, many humanitarian pauses during this year... 48 hours, 72 hours, at the request of the United Nations.

“Every time, these pauses have been used by Nusra to get from abroad more fighters, more ammunition and more weapons. There must be some first step, and we have to get our priorities right.

“Humanitarian things are very important and we are doing everything now, together with the Syrian government, to help the United Nations to get weekly pauses in Aleppo to deliver humanitarian goods. It’s the Nusra-controlled people in eastern Aleppo who refuse to do this.”





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