Russian, U.S. top diplomats to discuss Syria in New York

Russian, U.S. top diplomats to discuss Syria in New York

MOSCOW (Rahnuma): Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet and discuss the situation in Syria’s Idlib, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Wednesday.

Syria is one of the main topics of their meeting on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly that will open on Sept. 18 in New York, Ryabkov said.

He said that the preservation of the terrorist-dominated enclave in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib will always create new threats, including those using chemical weapons.

Ryabkov added that Western countries understand perfectly well that without liberating Idlib from terrorists, it would be impossible to expect a settlement in Syria.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that the situation in Idlib is a matter of great concern and that the Russian side maintains contacts with foreign counterparts at all levels.

Idlib, controlled by “ultra-radical groups” as Russia calls, has a population of about 2.5 million and is strategically important as it borders Turkey.

It is close to the coastal province of Latakia, home of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which also hosts the Russia-operated Hmeymim airbase.

The Syrian government army has been amassing forces and military gears around Idlib in recent weeks.

Pompeo told reporters on Tuesday that the United States shares Russia’s concern of terrorism threat emanating from Idlib.

“We absolutely agree with them there are terrorists in those locations and they need to be taken care of so that they don’t export terror around the world,” Pompeo said.

But Washington fears that an attack on terrorists in the province could put the lives of civilians at risk and create a humanitarian crisis, he said.

Four Russian jets of the Hmeymim airbase bombed positions of Nusra Front in Idlib on Tuesday, destroying a workshop for drone manufacturing, a warehouse of explosives for the drones and a warehouse of man-portable air defense systems.

Russia is conducting large-scale military drills in the Mediterranean on Sept. 1-8 involving more than 25 battleships and 30 warplanes.

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