ISIS offensive on Palmyra could be orchestrated to give respite to militants in Aleppo – Lavrov

A new Islamic State attack on Palmyra from the Mosul region could be ‘orchestrated’ to divert the attention of Syrian government forces from Aleppo and spare the militants entrenched in the city, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

The fact that Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL) militants launched their offensive on Palmyra from Iraq and “apparently from Mosul” and marched through the “territories patrolled by the aircraft of the US-led coalition makes one think that – and I really hope to be wrong here - that it was orchestrated and coordinated to give a respite to those thugs, who are entrenched in eastern Aleppo,” the foreign minister said during a press conference in Belgrade, Serbia, as he answered a question asked by RT.

Lavrov went on to say that the US has been conducting a two-faced policy towards terrorist groups in Syria from the very beginning of the Syrian crisis. The US-led coalition is fighting Islamic State but is studiously avoiding targeting another terrorist group, which is Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front, he said.

“There is a significant number of reasons to believe that [Al-Nusra] is being spared as the most effective combat-capable force, which opposes the governmental [forces] of the ground in order to be used for overthrowing the legitimate Syrian government when the time comes,” Lavrov told journalists.

At the same time, he said that Russia is still ready to guarantee that the corridors allowing the militants to leave Aleppo will not be targeted by the Syrian government forces and once again asked the US to persuade the armed groups to leave the city.

“Those who want to be the part of the reconciliation process should immediately join the ceasefire regime, as all the others would be regarded as legitimate targets,” the minister said, referring to the armed groups fighting the government forces in Syria.

He also expressed his hope that the US will stop “exonerate” the militants and will confirm its commitment to the “fundamental agreement” on “uncompromising struggle against terrorism.” At the same time, he admitted that the talks between Russia and the US on Syria are difficult.

“The US has returned to its old deadlock position,” the foreign minister said, explaining that Washington is again demanding that Russia and the Syrian government offer another humanitarian pause in Aleppo that could last from three to seven days prior to coordinating the issue of the militants leaving the city with the US.

“That [the humanitarian pause] would mean another respite for the militants,” Lavrov said, adding: “We have been through this before.” He also said that the situation around Aleppo should be resolved primarily on the basis of the care for civilians.

Just like Soviet Union, EU prioritizes ideology over real economic interests – Lavrov

Sergey Lavrov also slammed the European Union for its ideology-driven policy toward Russia as well as for the pressure it exerts on its members as well as the Associated and Candidate Countries.

“We are aware of the written instructions issued by the EU that oblige every [EU] country as well as the Associated and Candidate Countries to make [specific] statements concerning Russia,” he told journalists.

According to Lavrov, the EU instructions demand that “all these countries” condemn the “annexation of Crimea” and “occupation of the Eastern Ukraine” and define the situation in Ukraine and around the Crimean Peninsula strictly in that way.

Russian minister denounced such approach as “absurd” and compared the current policy of the EU with that of the Soviet Union that also “prioritized ideological dogmas over economic interests and essential interests of its members.”

If the EU wants to build partnership relations with some countries, particularly with Serbia and Montenegro, only to hurt Russia, then its policy can be defined only as a “dead end” and a “blind alley,” Lavrov said.