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23 Feb, 2018 13:46

Lavrov: US & allies refuse to amend UN draft to include guarantee militants honor Syria ceasefire

Lavrov: US & allies refuse to amend UN draft to include guarantee militants honor Syria ceasefire

Washington and its allies refuse to amend a resolution drafted by the UN Security Council to include guarantees that militants will observe the ceasefire in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

Russia is ready to vote for the UNSC draft, but for the proposal to yield real results, it needs “a formula allowing the ceasefire to be made real, and based on the guarantees of everyone in Eastern Ghouta [province in Syria] and beyond.” Moscow’s top diplomat also cautioned that there are no guarantees that the militants will stick to the humanitarian pause instead of a continued shelling of residential areas in Damascus.

These guarantees should be supported by those who can influence “extremist groups” in Eastern Ghouta, Lavrov stressed, apparently referring to the US-led coalition. At the same time, Washington and its allies do not want to pass any amendment that would place responsibility on itself for the militants’ failure to stop the hostilities, according to the diplomat.

“For now, they refuse to accept an amendment which will place responsibility on them to ensure that the militants give clear guarantees to stop the shelling,” the Russian foreign minister stated on Friday.

Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, has seen a new wave of clashes between Syrian government forces and both rebel and Islamist factions. The latter included Al-Nusra Front, currently known as Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham. Despite the terrorist group remaining a key problem in the area, Russia still has “no evidence that the US-led coalition considers Jabhat Al-Nusra as a real target for its actions.”

Addressing claims of human-rights abuses in Eastern Ghouta by the Syrian government, Lavrov said that many questions had been raised.

The Damascus suburb has recently been described by Western media outlets as the scene of a government-led massacre, with frequent claims that civilians are being deliberately targeted there. On Thursday, the UN Security Council convened for an emergency meeting in New York to discuss to the situation in Syria and Eastern Ghouta, in particular.

The Russian delegation rejected a proposed resolution for a 30-day ceasefire in Syria, which was submitted by Sweden and Kuwait, as “non-implementable” as “long and hard work with parties to the conflict is needed to bring them together and work out all the details.”

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