US, allies ‘bombed’ Syria peace talks by recent strikes: Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the US and its allies “bombed” the UN-backed Syria peace talks in Geneva by their recent military strikes against the country.
The US, France and Britain “on 14 April bombed not only made-up chemical sites in Syria, but also bombed the (UN-backed peace) talks in Geneva,” Lavrov said following a meeting with UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura in Moscow on Friday.
“We came very close to a re-launching of the Geneva process with a real dialogue between Syrians, mainly on the question of constitutional reform,” Lavrov noted.
Russian officials say the tripartite Western attacks hit Syria right at the moment the country had a chance to have a peaceful future.
The Syrian government and opposition groups are already involved in a political process mediated by Russia, Iran and Turkey in Astana, Kazakhstan.
The talks have led to the formation of four de-escalation zones across Syria and helped significantly reduce violence in the country.
The talks in Astana have been going on in tandem with another series of talks held in Geneva and brokered by the UN. Previous rounds of negotiations under the auspices of the UN over the past five years have failed to achieve tangible results.
The European Union says the recent tripartite missile attacks on Syria was ‘understandable,’ but that a diplomatic solution remains the only option for lasting peace there.
De Mistura, who also met Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, said the UN’s priority was to “lower the temperature” following the tripartite attacks.
“I am very pleased to hear… that in spite of what happened last week and it is still very recent, there is a strong commitment from the Russian Federation to push for the political process,” De Mistura said.
“It is important we turn the page on this alleged chemical attack because we need to go back to the basics,” he noted.
On April 14, the US, France and the UK carried out missile attacks on a number of targets in Syria in response to a suspected chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma, near Damascus, that reportedly took place on April 7. Syria has rejected any role in the alleged attack, which is yet to be investigated.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Syrian army shot down 71 out of the 103 missiles fired during the attack, using Russian-made air defense systems, including S-125, S-200, as well as the Buk and Kvadrat units.
Following the strikes, Russia announced it may consider giving Syria S-300 systems so it can defend itself in the face of such acts of aggression.