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Paris attacks altered West’s approach toward Assad: Russia

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (Reuters Photo)

Russia says the recent deadly assaults in the French capital Paris have resulted in a change in the Western countries’ stance on the political fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the remarks in an interview with the state-run Radio Rossii on Thursday.

Referring to the November 13 attacks claimed by the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group, which left at least 129 people dead and some 352 others wounded, Lavrov said the assaults helped the West understand that the priority in Syria is to fight Daesh and not to unseat President Assad.

People look at flowers, candles and messages in tribute to victims in front of the La Belle Equipe cafe, one of the sites of the 13 November attacks in Paris, France, November 17, 2015. ©Reuters

“Our Western partners have realized the pointlessness of that line, that ultimatum, basically, that if Assad leaves, all problems will be solved,” he said.

The top Russian diplomat also emphasized that it is not possible to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Syria without Assad, adding that the president represents the interests of a significant part of the Syrian society.

Lavrov further expressed Moscow’s readiness to cooperate with the US-led coalition, which is conducting airstrikes on purported Daesh positions, if the alliance’s members “respect Syria’s sovereignty and the prerogatives of the Syrian leadership.”

Elsewhere, the Russian foreign minister called on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to adopt an anti-terrorism resolution to allow the international community to act under the Chapter 7 of UN Charter, which allows the use of force in the case of non-compliance.

The Daesh militants, who have seized swathes of land in Iraq and Syria, have been carrying out horrific acts of violence, such as public decapitations and crucifixions, against all communities, including Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians in areas they have overrun.

Lavrov’s comments come following two rounds of international talks on the crisis in Syria that were held in Vienna, Austria on October 30 and November 14.

A view of an international conference on the Syria conflict in Vienna, Austria, on November 14, 2015 ©AFP

At the end of the mid-November round of negotiations, the participants seeking to find a solution to the Syrian crisis agreed to meet again in “approximately one month” to review progress towards a ceasefire and the start of a political process in the crisis-hit country, said an closing statement.

However, they remained at loggerheads over the role that Assad would play in Syria’s political process. While some countries, such as the US and its regional allies, want the removal of the Syrian leader as part of a solution to the issue, others, including Iran and Russia, say only the Syrian nation can have a say on the matter.


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