UN must promptly update its list of terror groups – Lavrov

An Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra fighter. © Hamid Khatib
Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, urged the United Nations to update its list of terrorist organizations in due time so that various groups couldn’t escape retribution by changing their names.

“The international community has a duty to remain steadfast in the fight against terrorism, the UN must update the lists of terrorist organizations in a timely manner," Lavrov said on Monday on the sidelines of the trilateral meeting between Russian,  Iranian and Azerbaijani leaders in Baku.

According to the FM, the terrorists are “attempting to save their lives” by renaming their groups.

"Russia is confident that despite all Jabhat al-Nusra's mimicry it is necessary to continue fight on terrorist organizations and update their lists all the time," he stressed.

In late July, one of the largest terror groups involved in the Syrian conflict, the Al Nusra Front, announced cutting ties with Al-Qaeda and changing its name to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (Conquest of Syria Front).

On August 2, a chemical attack in Syria’s Aleppo, in which seven people died and 23 others were injured, was carried by the Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki group, which was considered ‘moderate opposition’ and backed by the US, according to Russian military.

US-backed Syrian rebels responsible for toxic gas attack in Aleppo – Russian military

Lavrov also touched upon the Ukrainian issue, saying that Russia is ready to hold talks in 'Normandy Four' format on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in China’s Hangzhou on September 4–5.

The Normandy Four unites the leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine, working to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

"If our German, and French partners, as well as Chinese hosts, agree with Kiev's proposal to hold a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit, we will certainly be ready for that," Lavrov said.

He stressed that such a meeting would "would be quite timely and appropriate" considering the recent deterioration of the situation in Donbas. The FM said shared Moscow’s concerns over Kiev’s increasing military activity in eastern Ukraine.

In spring 2014, the Ukrainian military was sent to the south-east of the country after people in Donetsk and Lugansk Regions refused to recognize the new coup-imposed government in the capital. Nearly 9,500 people were killed and over 22,100 injured during the two years of fighting, according to UN data.

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The joint fight against international terrorism has topped the agenda during the summit of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, and Azerbaijan’s leader, Ilham Aliyev.

"We are concerned about the two major hotbeds of instability, in Afghanistan and the Middle East, which are located in close proximity to the borders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran. They pose a threat of international terrorism and cross-border crime, mainly related to the growth of the flow of drugs, weapons smuggling and relocation of militants. I believe that the growing terrorist threat is a real threat, it is necessary to build closer cooperation," Putin said.

The Syrian issue was extensively discussed by Putin and Rouhani, with the two leaders talking the course of the implementation of the ceasefire, humanitarian assistance program and combating such terror groups as Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Jabhat al-Nusra.