Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the US-led coalition operating in Syria and Iraq has been refusing to hit the al-Nusra Front terrorist group.
“From the very beginning, the United States coalition, while fighting Daesh more or less actively (sometimes more, sometimes less), has been sparing Jabhat al-Nusra (Nusra Front). Obviously, all facts indicate in this direction,” Lavrov said in an interview with the NBC News broadcaster on Friday.
Jabhat al-Nusra, long acting as an affiliate of the al-Qaeda terrorist group, has recently renamed itself and claimed to have broken ranks with it.
In his interview, Lavrov expressed hope that the creation of de-escalation zones in Syria would contribute to an effective fight against al-Nusra.
The decision to establish the zones was made during peace talks between the Syrian warring parties organized by guarantor states Iran, Russia, and Turkey in the Kazakh capital of Astana in early May.
“We hope very much that these de-escalation areas agreement would resolve the problem” of fighting Nusra terrorists, Lavrov said.
He said that an agreement between Russia and the administration of former US president Barack Obama on the coordination of efforts to counter terrorism had been derailed due to Washington’s unwillingness to fight Nusra terrorists.
Lavrov said the key impediment to reaching a settlement in Syria was the terrorist threat in the Arab country.
“We tried to achieve this goal by having a cessation of hostilities between the government and those who fight on the part of the patriotic opposition, so that all forces can be released free to fight terrorists,” he said.
The parties to the Astana peace process have been negotiating to work out the details of the agreement on the de-escalation zones.
A next round of the talks will be held in late August.
Syria has been grappling with militancy since March 2011.