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US protecting Nusra terrorists to use them to topple Assad: Russia

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gives a press conference following a meeting with his Serbian counterpart Ivica Dacic in Belgrade, Serbia, December 12, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the United States is seeking to protect the Takfiri al-Nusra Front terrorist group and use it as a tool to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“There is a slew of examples showing that al-Nusra Front somehow evaded the US-led coalition’s actions,” Lavrov said in the Serbian capital of Belgrade on Monday, referring to the coalition of countries bombarding alleged terrorist positions in Syria and Iraq.

“There were and are solid reasons to believe it (al-Nusra) was being protected as the most efficient and combat-capable anti-government force on the ground so that it could be used in the future to topple the legitimate leadership of Syria,” Lavrov added.

Al-Nusra Front has recently renamed itself and claimed to have broken ranks with al-Qaeda, although there is general consensus that the moves are decoy attempts.

This file photo shows members of the al-Nusra Front militant group in an undisclosed location in Syria.

The US-led coalition has achieved little, if anything, to dislodge the terrorist groups it claims to be fighting.

Earlier, the Russian foreign minister had described the movement of Daesh terrorists from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul to neighboring Syria and a subsequent attack on the ancient city of Palmyra as a part of an orchestrated plan to salvage Takfiri militant groups in Syria’s strategic northwestern city of Aleppo.

“It makes me think, and I hope I am wrong, that it is all orchestrated in order to give a respite to the bandits still in eastern Aleppo,” Lavrov said.

Syrian and Russian militaries are engaged in the final phases of a large-scale operation to retake Aleppo from militants, including those of al-Nusra.

EU ‘plans no sanctions against Russia’

Meanwhile, the European Union (EU)’s foreign policy chief has said the bloc does not intend to impose any sanctions on Russia over the nearly six-year-old conflict in Syria.

EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini addresses the European Parliament during a debate on the situation in Syria in Strasbourg, France, November 22, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini made the announcement on Monday.

Prior to a recent meeting of EU foreign ministers, there had been speculation that the bloc may impose new sanctions on Moscow over the Syrian crisis. Russia has been helping the elected government of Syria fight off a foreign-backed militancy.

“No, we didn’t discuss at all sanctions, and there was no member state asking for additional work on sanctions” against Russia, Mogherini said following the ministerial meeting.

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