News / Middle East

    Lavrov: Russian Airstrikes in Syria Will Continue Until Terrorists Defeated

    Lavrov Vows Russia's Military Will Not Halt Syria Airstrikesi
    X
    Jeff Custer
    February 03, 2016 7:23 PM
    The United Nations on Wednesday called off the fractious Syrian peace talks in Geneva until February 25. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said his country's military would not stop its airstrikes in Syria until "terrorist organizations" there were defeated. Syria's opposition, however, said Russia's role in the conflict was undermining peace efforts. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
    Lavrov Vows Russia's Military Will Not Halt Syria Airstrikes
    Luis Ramirez

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday his country's military will not stop its airstrikes in Syria until "terrorist organizations" there are defeated.

    Lavrov's comments come as the United Nations tries to keep its fragile Syrian peace talks in Geneva moving forward after a day in which neither the government or opposition delegation held a formal session with U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura.

    Lavrov specifically mentioned the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra as a target of the strikes, saying he does not see why they should stop.

    Russia has come under Western criticism for its air campaign in Syria, saying it focuses on opposition fighters instead of militants, which Russia repeatedly denied.

    Calls for end to airstrikes

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for an end to airstrikes on Tuesday and said a cease-fire in Syria should be implemented soon.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers his opening remarks on Feb. 2, 2016, at the Italian Foreign Ministry in Rome, Italy, at the outset of a meeting of the multinational counter-ISIL coalition.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers his opening remarks on Feb. 2, 2016, at the Italian Foreign Ministry in Rome, Italy, at the outset of a meeting of the multinational counter-ISIL coalition.

    "We are all extraordinarily sympathetic to the limits of propriety and common sense in the opposition sitting at the table while someone continues to bomb them,'' Kerry said in Rome, where he attended a meeting of coalition members fighting the Islamic State group.

    But members of the opposition delegation in Geneva said the gesture would make little difference for the peace process.

    One representative, Ahmad Ramadan, said the only way to save the talks is for the United Nations and the United States to “force an end to the bombardment and the targeting of civilians.”

    Another opposition member, Farah Atassi, said, "The regime’s and Russia’s actions gravely threaten the political process at this early stage.”

    Humanitarian aid

    The Syrian government on Tuesday allowed 14 trucks carrying humanitarian aid to travel into a rebel-held area near Damascus as a demonstration of good will. The opposition called it an “empty” gesture as long as government forces continue to step up their offensive.

    The Syrian government delegation said it did not open formal negotiations as scheduled Tuesday with U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura, saying the basic framework or agenda of the talks had yet to be established, and the process had not yet moved beyond the preparatory phase.

    U.N. mediator for Syria Staffan de Mistura gestures during a news conference after a meeting with the Syrian High Negotiations Committee (HNC) during the peace talks at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Feb. 1, 2016.
    U.N. mediator for Syria Staffan de Mistura gestures during a news conference after a meeting with the Syrian High Negotiations Committee (HNC) during the peace talks at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Feb. 1, 2016.

    “We are waiting to find out the procedural issues, who will negotiate. Until now nothing is clear: one or two or three or four delegations? There is no clear answers,” Bashar Jaafari, the chief Syrian government representative, told reporters in Geneva.

    At the same time, the main opposition group canceled a meeting it had scheduled with de Mistura on Tuesday, saying the escalating assault by Syrian government forces and their Russian allies are reasons not to pursue negotiations.

    De Mistura declared the talks officially under way on Monday, after persuading the opposition to join the talks.

    “As far as we are concerned, their arrival to the Palais des Nations and initiating the discussion with us is the official beginning of the Geneva talks,” the U.N. envoy said.

    Formal talks

    The formal start came exactly one week after they were originally scheduled to begin.

    Talks were delayed by discussions of who should represent the opposition, then by an opposition boycott and the opposition’s demands for an end to airstrikes and a lifting of blockades on rebel-held areas.

    FILE - U.N. mediator for Syria Staffan de Mistura delivers a statement after the opening of the Syrian peace talks at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 29, 2016.
    FILE - U.N. mediator for Syria Staffan de Mistura delivers a statement after the opening of the Syrian peace talks at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 29, 2016.

    De Mistura offered those assurances.

    On Monday, he said discussions to pause the assault are part of a framework that was decided during multinational discussions held in Vienna last year that cleared the way for the talks.

    “There was a message in the Vienna meetings that when the Geneva talks will actually start, in parallel there should be a beginning of a serious discussion about cease-fire,” de Mistura said.

    The head of the Syrian government delegation this week called on the opposition to “show good faith and devote to serious discussions.” But both sides continued to accuse each other of lacking goodwill.

    Prospects for a cease-fire seemed especially uncertain after the Syrian government, with Russia’s assistance, launched a massive offensive against rebel forces this week.

    Syrian state media say government forces on Tuesday took the village of Hardatneen, north of Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city. Observers say forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have recaptured several other villages near Aleppo over the past two days.

    The opposition is threatening to walk out of the Geneva talks if the airstrikes do not stop and if the government does not lift the siege they say is preventing humanitarian aid from reaching civilians in rebel-held areas.

    Chris Hannas in Washington contributed to this report.

    WATCH: U.S. Sen. Corker discusses Syria talks

    US Senator Bob Corker Talks to VOA About Syria Talksi
    X
    February 01, 2016 6:49 PM
    U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R - Tennessee), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, discussed the Syria talks with VOA's Michael Bowman on Monday, saying he thinks they are starting off in a difficult place.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Buzznode from: KCMO
    February 05, 2016 8:19 AM
    Finally, a leader that actually does something. Leave the Russians alone and let them finish the job.

    by: Kenny Azad from: Pasadena,CA
    February 05, 2016 1:20 AM
    This is the way it should be done instead of pussy footing around like Obama does. He really doesn't want the terrorists to be defeated, does he?

    by: Putin
    February 04, 2016 10:03 AM
    Putin is the only one who realizes what needs to be done to defeat ISIS. You can't reason with these animals. The only thing they understand is death.....so Russia is giving it to them. In fact he is shoving it down their throats. What do you expect Russia to do?????? They shot down one of their planes. We just happen to have the biggest Muslim lover in the history of the US as a president.

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    February 03, 2016 12:53 PM
    Since Russia is committed to get the job done in their own way and there's nothing we can do to stop them anyway, there's no reason for us to be there. We should step aside and let them do whatever they want to without any risk to us.
    In Response

    by: baba Voenga from: underground
    February 04, 2016 4:11 AM
    Could at least someone in the US realized that it needs to "stand aside" and not interfere others to do real deal, especially you Marcus Aurelius II-III-IV...
    Let's see how long you will endure.

    by: Anonymous
    February 03, 2016 11:33 AM
    Cease-fire so AQ and ISIS can regroup or be re-supplied by Saudi Arabia and Turkey?
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    February 03, 2016 6:09 PM
    That's exactly what Kerry wants.

    by: Maribel from: Spain
    February 03, 2016 11:00 AM
    Noone of them wants other Kobane. It is time that people from Aleppo wonder why they are fighting. It is just the right moment.

    by: Bruce H
    February 03, 2016 10:40 AM
    So the Russians will stay until Hezbollah is defeated?
    In Response

    by: Putin
    February 04, 2016 7:50 PM
    Maybe Hezbollah can't be defeated but they can kill until there is no one left to kill.
    Exterminate!
    In Response

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    February 04, 2016 6:40 PM
    Wrong again Igor. Hezbollah is largely Shia, Palestinians almost entirely Sunni. Who can defeat Hezbollah? Israel for one. the US for another. Especially if it's a matter of survival and there is no consideration for how many innocents will die in the process.

    What does Syria win if all of its rebel enemies are defeated. Assad will be king of a bombed out graveyard no one will pay to rebuild. It seems there's practically nothing left to bomb anymore, only people surviving in the rubble of what was once a nation.
    In Response

    by: Igor from: Russia
    February 03, 2016 9:50 PM
    Defeated by whom? I do not think any force can defeat them because they come out from the people of Palestine. Only fair international settlement can bring about peace in the Middle East.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    February 03, 2016 9:23 AM
    [Using logic and common sense], any person with any intelligence would realize that all the terrorists (US backed or not) have to be driven from Syria or defeated, (if Assad is removed or not), because terrorists can't be allowed to dictate terms and conditions to the Assad Shia Muslim government if he stays, or be allowed to dictate terms and conditions to the next Syrian government and the Syrian people using terrorism?

    [Picture it?] .. Kerry and Obama never explains where the good or bad terrorists will go, if the Russian backed Syrian army defeats the terrorists or if they don't? .. Will the terrorists disappear, go back home, or stay and continue to be terrorists committing terrorist acts? .. Could it be? .. In the fantasy fairytale land of elves and fairies that Obama lives in, that the elves and fairies will somehow make the terrorists peaceful elves and fairies also? .. IF ONLY, the terrorists lived in that Obama fantasy fairytale land of elves and fairies also? .. there'd be peace in Syria without terrorists?

    by: david from: philippine
    February 03, 2016 9:08 AM
    opposition? who is opposition? what they want? want kind goverment and the law they want? i just think the pioliticians of the west nations are really out of the mine, those opposition with mideast nations and turkey, they just anti-whole cicilized human race, looks are hopeless, not just syria, the anti civilization the islamization will spilled whole world, i think it is time for the west people, walk to street, tell theose west politicans, it is time to really stop the anti-civilization, it is time, it is too later, but, should give the try, another words, the west nations will end as syria

    by: Eric L
    February 03, 2016 7:41 AM
    If this went through the UNSC we could save millions in ordinance. But you need to spend money to make money.

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