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Kremlin rejects Merkel criticism over Syria

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)
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov (AFP photo)

A senior Kremlin official has rejected a statement by German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Russia's campaign in Syria is causing the suffering of civilians.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday said there has been no credible evidence of civilian deaths as a result of the ongoing Russian airstrikes in Syria.

"We once again call on everyone to be very careful and responsible in their choice of words, given the already delicate situation in Syria now and the Syrian settlement," Peskov told reporters in the Russian capital, Moscow.

In the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Monday, Merkel sharply criticized Russia's campaign in Syria. "We are horrified in the face of this human suffering."

The Russian spokesman said no voices had been raised in protest against the "barbaric actions of terrorists" when they assaulted Syrian government forces in the past. "No one made any statements of this kind at the time."

Moscow has also dismissed accusations made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Russia has occupied parts of Syria.

Peskov said that the statement is wrong from a judicial standpoint and from the point of view of international law. He added that Moscow considers it impossible to talk about any ways of improving ties with Ankara.

The United States also accused Moscow of being partly to blame for torpedoing the Geneva peace talks in Switzerland last week. Senior officials in Moscow have rejected the accusation that Russian actions would lead to the collapse of the talks.

The foreign-backed Syrian opposition has said that Russia should immediately stop its anti-terror airstrikes on militant-held areas as a condition for its participation in peace talks with the Damascus government.

Two Russian S-400 Triumf missile systems are seen at the Russian military base in Latakia Province in northwestern Syria, December 16, 2015. (AFP photo)

Russia began combat sorties against positions of Takfiri terrorists in Syria at the request of the Damascus on September 30, 2015. Moscow says the airstrikes are meant to weaken the Takfiri Daesh terrorists and other militant groups that are wreaking havoc in the Arab country.

Syria has blamed Turkey for the bulk of the chaos in its northern provinces, including in Latakia and Aleppo, saying Ankara overtly trains and funds militants who enter those areas.

For nearly five years, Syria has been grappling with a foreign-backed militancy. More than 260,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since March 2011.


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