‘We’ll fight ISIS until its complete annihilation’ – Russian FM Lavrov after Kerry talks
Islamic State and the Nusra Front won’t be part of the proposed Syrian ceasefire as the fight against the jihadists will go on until their complete annihilation, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov and his US counterpart, John Kerry, agreed during talks in Zurich.
“The main thing is that we came to an unambiguous conclusion that the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 will remain the main basis for us to move forward,” Lavrov told journalists in Switzerland.
During the negotiations, the two diplomats “discussed practical steps to ensure the conditions for a ceasefire” in Syria in accordance with the UN resolution, the Russian foreign minister added.
The truce “wouldn’t apply to terrorist organizations Islamic State and the Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra),” he stressed.
"They can’t be subject to an agreement on a ceasefire as they remain our enemies. And we’ll continue to fight them until their complete annihilation,” Lavrov stressed.
Moscow and Washington insist that the peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition shouldn’t be postponed beyond January, Lavrov said.
“We are not even considering the postponement of talks from January to February... We are certain that these talks must start in the next few days,” he said.
The intra-Syrian talks are scheduled to take place in another Swiss city, Geneva, on January 25.
The negotiations will focus on such issues as the tasks of the transition period, preparation of the new constitution and early election, the FM said, adding that Russia, the US and other foreign players will only monitor the talks.
Lavrov was also asked whether Kerry and him had reached an agreement on the participation of the Ahrar ash-Sham and Jaish al-Islamin groups in the Syrian talks.
"We can say that there is no such agreement," the Russia's top diplomat replied.
Russia presented data on the terrorist nature of both groups to the US during the Zurich meeting, maintaining its stance that Ahrar ash-Sham and Jaish al-Islamin have no place at the negotiating table.
Ahrar ash-Sham “is known to have been repeatedly shelling residential quarters of Damascus and Russia's embassy. Ahrar ash-Sham is a child of Al-Qaeda," Lavrov explained.
However, the FM expressed confidence that UN Special Envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura, would be able to form a representative opposition delegation for the intra-Syrian negotiations.
The foreign minister also told Kerry that Moscow “is ready to coordinate with the US-led coalition” regarding Russia’s humanitarian assistance in Syria.
The participants of the talks “reaffirmed the need to deal with the humanitarian problems in Syria,” he said.
Lavrov said that he assured his counterpart that the Russian Air Force is taking into account the UN and Red Cross programs in Syria as they conduct their humanitarian operation.
The Russian military launched a humanitarian operation in Syria last week in order to supply food and essentials to the residents of besieged towns and villages.