Moscow clashes with EU over aid to Syria

Author: AFPSat, 2017-09-23 03:00ID: 1506105281380595900NEW YORK: Russia on Thursday clashed with the EU over Syria, accusing the bloc of politicizing aid by linking reconstruction funds to a political transition that would end the war.
The EU in April secured pledges of $6 billion in aid for Syria, now in its seventh year of war, with over 330,000 people dead.
At an EU-organized conference held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, Russia’s deputy foreign minister said aid was being used as a political tool to build pressure on Syrian leader Bashar Assad.
“The politicization of issues related to aid and the statements on the need to wait for the end of the political process are unacceptable,” said Gennady Gatilov.
European officials insist that aid will not flow to Syria until a credible political transition is agreed during UN-led negotiations to end the war.
But Gatilov said aid was needed now “to rebuild schools, hospitals and critical infrastructure.”
Britain argued that the Assad regime should not be rewarded with aid, while France accused Damascus of continuing to block humanitarian deliveries.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced that a second conference on reconstruction aid for Syria will be held in the spring of 2018.
“We are ready to help even more, to see how we can help to bring back normal life in areas where violence has de-escalated, and to start working on reconstruction, only once a political agreement has been reached in Geneva,” said Mogherini.
Meanwhile, a Russian submarine in the Mediterranean fired cruise missiles at Al-Qaeda-linked militant positions in northwestern Syria on Friday, a day after militants wounded three Russian troops in the area, the Defense Ministry said in Moscow.
The ministry said the missile strikes from the Veliky Novgorod submarine earlier in the day targeted militants, ammunition depots and fortifications in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, which is dominated by Al-Qaeda-linked Levant Liberation Committee.
On Thursday, three Russian troops were wounded after militants encircled 29 Russian military officers deployed outside of Idlib for several hours. The Russian troops repelled the attack with the help of local tribes, the Russian ministry said.
Over the past weeks, Russia has fired cruise missiles from the Mediterranean toward positions of Daesh in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor but attacks on Idlib have been rare.
Moscow said the Kalibr missiles destroyed command centers and a training base of the militants who had attacked members of the Russian military police in Hama province earlier this week.
Russia targeted militants, armored vehicles, ammunition depots and fortifications of Al-Qaeda’s Syria branch in Idlib.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the missiles were fired at 10:11 a.m. local time from the Mediterranean at targets 300 km away.
“Surprise missiles strikes in Idlib province destroyed important command posts, training bases and armored vehicles of the terrorists who took part in an attempt to capture 29 Russian military policemen in southern Hama province,” the ministry statement said, citing intelligence reports.
Main category: Middle-EastTags: RussiaSyriaUNGAEUBashar Assadrelated_nodes: Russian submarines fire missiles at targets in Syria — InterfaxRussia threatens US in race to capture key Syria townUS-backed force ‘hit by Syrian regime, Russian strikes’

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