Russia: America Likely to Use Al-Nusra Militants to Oust Syrian President Assad

Russia: America Likely to Use Al-Nusra Militants to Oust Syrian President Assad
Thu Jun 16, 2016 20:01:54

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the United States is likely seeking to preserve the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front terrorist group as a tool to unseat Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Lavrov made the remarks at the meeting of a panel discussion on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum 2016 (SPIEF 2016) on Thursday.

Russia has long insisted that the so-called moderate opposition groups in Syria, supported by the US, should leave the areas held by Nusra militants. However, Washington has asked Moscow not to conduct airstrikes against the Nusra Front.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a session of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum 2016 (SPIEF 2016) in St Petersburg, Russia, June 16, 2016. © Reuters

Lavrov said the US claims to be unable to pull the opposition groups out of the territories controlled by terrorists.

"I have the impression that some game is being played here and they want perhaps to preserve al-Nusra in some form and then use it to overthrow” the government of Assad, he added.

Elsewhere in his comments, the top Russian diplomat noted that communication is underway between Russia’s and US militaries, with daily video conferences between the Russian Hmeimim base in Syria and the US-led coalition command based in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

“A round-the-clock joint Russian-US center was set up in Geneva for rapid response to violations of the regime of the cessation of hostilities. By the way, all these channels operate in a rather business-like manner, and there are no hysterics there, in contrast to the public space where, forgive me for being rude, we are being chastised," he said.

The photo posted on the Twitter page of the al-Nusra Front terrorist group on June 15, 2016, shows the militants on their vehicle at the hilltop of Khalsa village, southern Aleppo, Syria. © AP

The nation-wide ceasefire, brokered by Moscow and Washington, was introduced in Syria in February in a bid to facilitate dialogue between rival parties in the country. Daesh (ISIS / ISIL) and al-Nusra Front terrorist groups were excluded from the truce.

Washington, along with some of its allies, has been conducting air raids against alleged ISIS positions in Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from Damascus or the UN. The strikes have failed to disband the extremists.

Russia launched an air campaign against ISIS and other terrorist groups last September upon a request by the Damascus government.

A Russian Sukhoi Su-35 jet lands at the Russian Hmeimim military base in Syria’s Latakia province on May 4, 2016. © AFP

Furthermore, the Russian foreign minister said he was stunned by US Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent remarks on Washington’s “limited" patience regarding the settlement process in Syria and Assad’s fate.

"I've seen this statement and was surprised. John [Kerry] usually [acts] as a self-restrained politician. I don't even know what happened,” Lavrov said.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-sponsored militancy since March 2011. Damascus says Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar are the main supporters of the militants fighting the government forces.

S/SH 11

string(3211) "[{"id":"1828836","sort":"3567165","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2016/06/16/alalam_636016614091016333_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"VIDEO: Syrian Army Pushes Al-Nusra Offensive Back in Southern Quneitra"} ,{"id":"1828540","sort":"3567166","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2016/06/15/alalam_636015919041318403_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"100 Al-Nusra Militants Enter Syrian-Turkish Border: Russian Defense Ministry"} ,{"id":"1828318","sort":"3567167","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2016/06/14/alalam_636015215363902746_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Al-Nusra Fails to Break through Syrian Army’s Positions in Quneitra"} ,{"id":"1827623","sort":"3567168","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2016/06/12/alalam_636013452220949020_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Gathering of Heavily-Armed Al-Nusra Militants near Highway to Aleppo"} ,{"id":"1827587","sort":"3567169","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2016/06/12/alalam_636013380537552233_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Russian, Syrian Jets Target Al-Nusra, Jeish Al-Fatah Positions across Aleppo"} ,{"id":"1826698","sort":"3567170","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2016/06/09/alalam_636010850764344359_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"160 Elements of Al-Nusra Terrorists Cross Turkey Border, Enter Syria’s Idlib"} ,{"id":"1826596","sort":"3567171","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2016/06/09/alalam_636010680225647148_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Al-Nusra Front Terrorists Attack Kurdish Neighborhood in Aleppo"} ,{"id":"1826580","sort":"3567172","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2016/06/09/alalam_636010641584563191_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Syrian Army Destroys Al-Nusra Large Tunnel in East Ghouta, Damascus"} ,{"id":"1826368","sort":"3567173","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2016/06/08/alalam_636010001848209785_25f_4x3.mp4","title":"Shocking VIDEO: Al-Nusra, Ahrar Al-Sham Shell Attack Kills 20 Civilians in Aleppo"} ,{"id":"1825981","sort":"3567174","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2016/06/07/alalam_636009040767580956_25f_4x3.mp4","title":"VIDEO: Pitched Battle between Al-Nusra, Elements of Fatimyoun in Syria’s Aleppo"} ,{"id":"1825689","sort":"3567175","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2016/06/06/alalam_636008271894720188_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Syrian Army Targets ISIS & Jabhat Al-Nusra Terrorists’ Positions in Daraa, Deir Ezzor"} ,{"id":"1825381","sort":"3567176","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2016/06/05/alalam_636007457078741076_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"270 Civilians Killed in Just 24 Hours by Al-Nusra Shelling in Syria: Russian MoD"} ,{"id":"1825132","sort":"3567177","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2016/06/04/alalam_636006729823717977_25f_4x3.mp4","title":"VIDEO, Washington Asks Moscow not to Attack Al-Nusra Front Terrorists in Syria: Lavrov"} ,{"id":"1824709","sort":"3567178","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2016/06/03/alalam_636005697199089740_25f_4x3.mp4","title":"VIDEO: Syrian Army Troops Smash Al-Nusra Terrorists in Southwest of Damascus"} ,{"id":"1824318","sort":"3567179","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2016/06/02/alalam_636004795782701598_25f_4x3.mp4","title":"VIDEO: Syrian Army Pounds Heavily Al-Nusra Militants in Daraa, Damascus"} ,{"id":"1822097","sort":"3567180","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2016/05/26/alalam_635998871184770875_25f_4x3.mp4","title":"VIDEO: Hezbollah Al-Nujaba Kills 23 Al-Nusra Militants in Syria’s Khan Touman"} ]"