Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that some Western countries wish to preserve an enclave that is a terrorist hotbed in Syria’s Idlib province.
“There’s been news that some Western countries wish to do precisely that. They want this enclave where Jabhat al-Nusra (terrorist group outlawed in Russia) controls more than 90% of the territory to become a participant in the future political process,” Lavrov stated at a news conference on Wednesday. “It is clear that there can be no talks with terrorists. Our Western counterparts have repeatedly demonstrated double standards, so I cannot rule out that the information I’ve mentioned is well-founded.”
The top Russian diplomat recalled the gist of the agreements between the Russian and Turkish presidents on the de-escalation zone in Idlib.
“The agreement requires separating the opposition interested in a normal dialogue with the government of Syria from the terrorists, thus isolating them and continuing their elimination. No agreements envisage the indefinite preservation of this hotbed of terrorism on Syrian soil,” Lavrov said.
“On February 14, ahead of the trilateral Russia-Iran-Turkey summit in Sochi there will be bilateral meetings with President Erdogan and President Rouhani,” the top diplomat noted. “Naturally, at the meeting with Erdogan, the question about the Idlib zone will be one of the main ones. Everybody understands that Jabhat al-Nusra should by no means be allowed to gain a firmer foothold in that zone, where it has in fact already tripled the area under its control. Instead of separating the illegal armed groups from Jabhat al-Nusra, we are seeing the opposite process.”