Russia’s Lavrov says US has no intention to leave Syria: RIA

Russia’s Lavrov says US has no intention to leave Syria: RIA

Russia’s Lavrov says US has no intention to leave Syria: RIA

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on April 24 that the United States has no intention to leave Syria despite Washington saying it has such plans, the RIA state news agency said.

 “The U.S. pledged that their only aim was to repel terrorists from Syria, to defeat the so-called Islamic State [of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)], but, despite all their claims, despite President [Donald] Trump’s claims, the U.S. is actually positioning itself on the Eastern bank of the Euphrates and have no intention of leaving,” Lavrov told reporters in Beijing.

“As for economic reconstruction, this will take time and I am convinced that we should all act in the interests of the Syrian people and out of total respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria,” he said, talking about the rebuilding of Syria.

The Russian top diplomat said he hoped it would become clearer how to cooperate on settling the Syrian issue after contacts with his counterparts from France.

Commenting on foreign ministers from Group of Seven leading industrialized nations who united on April 23 to condemn Russia, Lavrov said they had an obvious “Russophobic rationale,” RIA added.  

Separately, the Syrian government plans to recover an opposition-held pocket north of Homs city soon after it completes surrender deals with armed groups around the capital Damascus, a Syrian government minister said on April 24.

Having taken back the largest rebel-held area near Damascus, Eastern Ghouta, in early April, the Syrian army and allied forces are close to recovering the remaining few pockets around the capital.

Pro-government forces are bombarding a jihadist enclave in south Damascus where ISIL holds a pocket next to one held by rebel factions.

In recent days rebels in two other enclaves northeast of Damascus, Dumair and east Qalamoun, surrendered and agreed to be transferred by bus to opposition territory in northern Syria.

The Syrian army and its allies have for years employed siege and bombardment tactics to force rebels to surrender their enclaves and agree to be transferred to opposition territory in northern Syria.

Ali Haidar, the Syrian minister responsible for national reconciliation, told Reuters in an interview the government would focus on recovering an opposition-held pocket north of the city of Homs after securing the areas around Damascus. 

“The issue will not be a long time coming after the final resolution in Qalamoun,” Haidar said. 

Haidar said the government had for a while been dropping leaflets and communicating with rebels in the opposition-held towns of Rastan, Talbiseh and Houla in northern Homs province.

“Today there is serious work in that area,” he said.

“Armed groups wait to feel the seriousness and determination of the state’s military action before they approach serious discussion of a reconciliation agreement.”