Russia: ISIS Offensive on Palmyra Could Be Launched to Give Respite to Militants in Aleppo

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According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, a new offensive of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group on Palmyra could be organized in order to deflect attention of the Syrian Army from Aleppo.

Russia: ISIS Offensive on Palmyra Could Be Launched to Give Respite to Militants in Aleppo

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (Photo: TASS / Alexander Shcherbak)

A new offensive of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group on the Syrian city of Palmyra from the Iraqi region of Mosul could be organized in order to deflect attention of the Syrian Armed Forces away from Aleppo and save militants, who stayed in the city, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during a press conference in Belgrade, Serbia.

The fact that the offensive of the IS terrorists on Palmyra was launched from Iraq and “apparently from Mosul” and militants 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,” Lavrov said.

The Russian Foreign Minister also noted that from the very beginning of the Syrian crisis, the US has been conducting a two-faced policy towards Syrian terrorist groups. He pointed out that while the US-led coalition is fighting against the IS, it is studiously avoiding a fight against another terrorist group – the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front, which is currently known as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

“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 said.

He also stressed that Moscow is still ready to guarantee that the Syrian government forces will not target the corridors, allowing militants to leave Aleppo city, and once again appealed to the US, asking 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,” Lavrov noted, referring to the groups of militants, fighting against the Syrian Arab Army on the territory of the country.

At the same time, he admitted that the negotiations between Moscow and Washington on the Syrian issue are difficult, noting that “the US has returned to its old deadlock position,” once again demanding to introduce another humanitarian pause in Aleppo city that could last from three to seven days, before the US would coordinate the issue of the militants, leaving the city. However, he also expressed his hope that Washington will stop to “exonerate” the militants and confirm its commitment to the “fundamental agreement” on “uncompromising struggle against terrorism.”

“That [the humanitarian pause] would mean another respite for the militants,” the Russian Foreign Minister said, adding that “we have been through this before.” Lavrov also stressed that the situation in Aleppo should be resolved primarily on the basis of the care for civilians.

He also criticized the EU for its ideology-driven policy toward Russia, as well as for the pressure, exerted on its members, 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,” Lavrov said.

As the Russian Foreign Minister noted, according to the EU instructions, “all these countries” must condemn the “occupation of eastern Ukraine” and “annexation of Crimea,” as well as define situations around the Crimean Peninsula and in Ukraine strictly in that way.

Lavrov called this approach as “absurd” and compared the current policy of the EU with the Soviet Union, where ideological dogmas were prioritized “over economic interests and essential interests of its members.”

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