No more US hit on Assad forces: Russia
MOSCOW – ReutersRussia and the United States have a shared understanding that U.S. air strikes on Syria should not be repeated, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moualem in Moscow on April 13, Interfax news agency reported.
He said this was “concluded” during Wednesday’s visit of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Moscow.
But in Washington, the U.S. State Department said Tillerson did not eliminate the possibility the United States may undertake future strikes.
“The secretary explained there were no subsequent targets after the missile strike, but he did not rule out any future action,” State Department acting spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement on April 13.
“He stressed that Russia is in a position to use its influence over the Assad regime to ensure it is never again necessary for the U.S. to act,” Toner said.
Meanwhile, buses evacuated thousands of people from two rebel-besieged Shi’ite villages in northwest Syria on April 14 and rebels began to leave two towns near Damascus with their families, under a deal between the government and insurgents.
Similar agreements have been reached in recent months, with Syrian rebels leaving areas long-besieged by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, sometimes in exchange for Shi’ite Muslim residents moving from the villages surrounded by the mostly Sunni insurgents.
After six years of fighting a civil war, Damascus has gained the upper hand against rebels in the west of the country, and been able to negotiate the deals from a position of strength thanks to Russia’s intervention since 2015 and increased support from Shi’ite allies Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah.