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U.S. using Al-Nusra terrorists to undermine Astana peace talks progress – Syrian FM
The US is enabling former Al-Nusra jihadists to subvert the Astana peace process, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said after a meeting with Sergey Lavrov. The Russian FM in turn vowed to respond to any provocations from the US’s rebel “friends.”
Speaking to journalists following talks with Russia’s top diplomat on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Friday, Muallem accused the US military of enlisting the help of terrorists to wreak agreements on de-escalation zones secured within the Astana reconciliation process.
“They are dissatisfied with the successful outcome of Astana peace process, that’s why they use their [assets], including Jabhat al-Nusra [Al-Nusra Front] to impede the agreements that had been negotiated,” Muallem said, as cited by TASS.
At the latest round of the international talks in the Kazakh capital, backed by Russia, Iran and Turkey as the guarantors of the Syrian ceasefire, the parties agreed on the boundaries of a final de-escalation zone in Idlib province.
The initiative, championed by Moscow, is aimed at separating jihadists, such as Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front, from moderate opposition in the areas designated in the agreement. The deal envisages creating a mechanism to monitor the ceasefire in four de-escalation zones, which include eastern Ghouta, parts of Homs, Hama, Latakia, Aleppo and Idlib provinces as well as territories in southern Syria.
The creation of four de-escalation zones, which has been in process since the initial idea was approved by the Syrian government in May, was hailed by Russia’s special envoy for Syria, Aleksandr Lavrentiev, as a “turning point” in solving the Syrian crisis.
Muallem went on to note that thanks to a fruitful cooperation between Syrian and Russian forces the fight with extremists is nearing its end. More than 87 percent of Syria’s territory has been freed from jihadists’ control, according to the latest data from the Russian Defense Ministry released Friday.
The Syrian people “are getting more and more confident that they are writing the last chapter of the crisis,” the Syrian Foreign Minister pointed out, as cited by RIA Novosti.
Denouncing the US role in Syria, Muallem alleged that Washington intentionally aims to curb the offensive by the Syrian troops in Deir ez-Zor.
“The Americans have not changed their approach so far. In Deir ez-Zor they attempt to impede our army’s advances against ISIS,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lavrov lamented the lack of broader cooperation between the US and Russian forces in Syria, arguing that “to deal a final blow to terrorists in fact, not just deconflicting is needed, coordination is necessary.”
The top Russian diplomat noted that Moscow has made it clear to the State Department and the Pentagon that it would not stand still if Washington-backed militias based in the areas adjacent to the ongoing Syrian army offensive attempt to cause a stir.
“We have sent a clear message that if there are attempts to complicate the end of the counterterrorism operation from the areas that are close to American ‘friends’…it will not be left without reaction,” Lavrov warned.
The strong words from Lavrov came on the heels of the report by the Russian Defense Ministry citing intelligence data, that the latest offensive by Al-Nusra Front in the north and northeast of the city of Hama targeting the Syrian troops and, in particular, the Russian military police unit, was likely instigated by the US security service.
According to Russia’s General Staff, the militants tried to capture the Russian servicemen as they were monitoring a ceasefire in the designated de-escalation zone in the Idlib province. The offensive was swiftly repelled by the Syrian and Russian special operation forces on the ground backed from the air. Some 850 militants were killed as a result of the operation. The special operation forces suffered three injuries but no casualties.
Asked about reports of US alleged indirect involvement in the attack, US-led international coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon appeared to dodge the question, saying said he “had no information” on that issue and “would not entertain that question”.
Peter Ford, former UK ambassador to Syria & Bahrain: “Al-Qaeda in Syria appears to be following an American agenda”
The Russian military has accused the US of colluding with Al-Nusra terrorists, who launched an attack on Syrian army positions near Idlib, inside a de-escalation zone.
A small group of Russian military police stationed in Syria was caught in an ambush during the attack. According to the Defense Ministry, the Russian troops managed to repel the Al-Nusra militants, despite being surrounded and heavily outnumbered.
Following the Russian military’s claim, the Pentagon issued a statement saying the US position on Al-Nusra being a terrorist organization has not changed.
‘Risk of a US-Russia clash’
Ivan Eland, Senior Fellow, and Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty at the Independent Institute
RT: The Russian Defense Ministry accused the US of supporting the attack by Al-Nusra on Russian forces. What do you make of this allegation?
Ivan Eland: I think the US would have an interest in doing that, but I am not sure that they would really want to support Al-Qaeda in doing this, because they’ve had that experience in Afghanistan when they supported the Mujahideen, and later on these people used the weapons and the support to create Al-Qaeda. I can’t say that it’s not happening because one never knows what the CIA is up to, but I think the US would be reluctant to support Al-Qaeda. They certainly would want to stop the Syrian army from having gains.
The Americans have a plan. They don’t want the Syrian army to recapture Deir ez-Zor, which is very close to the Iraqi border. They don’t want to create or to allow some sort of connections or passage between the Iraqi army and the Syrian army in that part of Syria. It seems the Americans would like this border to be closed forever. And they don’t want the Syrians to control Deir ez-Zor simply because it has oil fields, gas fields and also it is a very strategic position. If the Syrian army win the Deir-ez-Zor war, this would be the last war on Syrian territory… Abdel Bari Atwan, writer and commentator, to RT.
RT: The US is fighting ISIS near Deir ez-Zor as well. What would be the point in trying to stop the Syrian army’s advance?
IE: In guerrilla warfare – irregular warfare – the army is stronger. I think the Syrians with Russian help beat this back and I guess there was some local militia involved as well. Any sort of rebels – whether it’s Al-Qaeda, ISIS, or whatever – they are best when they don’t take on directly more powerful people like the Syrian army, the Russian forces, etc. Certainly, what the guerrillas are trying to do is just not lose the war. And if they do that and they keep hanging on, they then hope that these stronger parties get tired and settle the whole mess, or they pack up and go home if they are a foreign power.
But there is the possibility of Russia and US forces accidentally clashing, and that rarely happened in the Cold War, the two superpowers tried to make sure that didn’t happen, but of course, they are on the same battlefield in Syria, and they are trying to stay deconflicted, but it still could happen. At the same time, the surrogate forces of the Syrian government and the Kurds and the Arabs could definitely come into conflict as well, particularly if they are fighting over territory that ISIS had previously.
‘Oil is key’
Peter Ford, former UK ambassador to Syria & Bahrain
RT: It’s not the first time the Russian Defense Ministry accused the US of supporting terrorists in Syria, isn’t it?
Peter Ford: It will be interesting to see what, if any, proof is brought forward. What has just happened in Idlib suggests that the Al-Qaeda affiliate group there – Al-Nusra – is following an American agenda. That can be little doubt that the Americans are frustrated by the success of the Syrian army in Deir ez-Zor and are trying to advance in the game their pawns, their proxies, their mercenaries – the Kurdish and Arab tribal fighters – who are also moving toward the east. The Americans have been frustrated in this, because these mercenaries were attacked a few days ago by Syrian and Russian planes, according to reports.
What is happening now in Idlib could be read as the American countermove. They have engineered a move by Al-Nusra, and there have been recent reports of how Al-Nusra has been supplied over the years by the Americans through various intermediaries. They have been prompted to make this attack in Idlib in order to force the Syrian army in the east to divert forces back in the direction of Idlib.
RT: What is the significance of this race to the east of Syria?
PF: The east is important for two main reasons. One is oil. The largest Syrian oil fields are in the area that has yet to be captured from ISIS. Secondly, the Americans appear intent on doing anything to prevent what they claim would be a land bridge for Iran from Teheran, through Iraq across eastern Syria into the Mediterranean. That is the fantasy land of course, but this part of the American intentions, and why they are frustrated because it was the Syrian army that has begun to move east of the Euphrates. To the Americans, this is in contravention of an alleged deconfliction zone. Again, this is fantasy land; this has never been agreed.
The attack by the Russian air force on the advancing Kurdish mercenaries signaled very serious intent on the part of Russia. It signaled that Russia will not back down, even if it means confrontation with America. America’s credibility is not as much on the line as Russia’s… In this game of bluff and counter-bluff, I think the Russians are giving a master class in game theory, and they will prevail in what some have called the ‘wild East’ of Syria. The Americans think they understand the ‘Wild West,’ but this is different.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
The troops of the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF), a predominantly Kurdish militia that receives support from the US military, have twice attacked positions of the Syrian Arab Army in the Deir ez-Zor governorate with mortar and rocket fire, according to the Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov.
“Russia unequivocally told the commanders of US forces in Al Udeid Airbase (Qatar) that it will not tolerate any shelling from the areas where the SDF are stationed,” Konashenkov said, adding that the attacks put at risk Russian military advisers embedded with Syrian government troops.
“Fire from positions in regions [controlled by the SDF] will be suppressed by all means necessary,” he stressed… … …(READ MORE)…
SOURCES: RT News 23/9/2017 RT News 21/9/2017 Submitted by SyrianPatriots, Lone Bear War Press Info Network at : https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2017/09/23/al-qaeda-usa-agenda/ ~ Re-publications are welcome, but we kindly ask you, to facilitate the correct information's diffusion, to cite all these original links and sources.
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