The Russian operation in Syria will continue on until the “complete annihilation” of the Islamic State group and the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra front, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after meeting in Zurich with the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Lavrov said the upcoming United Nations-sponsored peace talks on Syria “wouldn’t apply to terrorist organizations Islamic State and the Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra),” adding “we’ll continue to fight them until their complete annihilation,” Lavrov stressed.
Russia Today quoted the Russian top diplomat saying that Kerry and him “discussed practical steps to ensure the conditions for a cease-fire” in Syria in accordance with the U.N. resolution.
He added that the peace talks would not be delayed beyond January.
“We have no intentions to postpone the talks from January to February,” he said. “This is both the position of Russia and the United States, and we are confident that in the next days, in January, such talks must start.”
However, the two diplomats did not agree over other rebel groups that reportedly have ties to extremist groups such as al-Qaida.
When asked about whether Kerry and him had reached an agreement on the participation of the Ahrar ash-Sham and Jaish al-Islam groups in the Syrian talks, Lavrov said that, “We can say that there is no such agreement.”
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-Qaida,” Lavrov added.
Speaking to CNN hours after the Kerry and Lavrov meeting, U.N. Special Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura said it was important that it be “a serious talk about peace and not talks about talks,” he said. “I believe we can start the talks, perhaps not on the 25th, but we need to maintain the pressure, we need to maintain the momentum.”