MOSCOW (Dispatches) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the war in Syria has come to an end and the focus should now be on promoting a long-lasting settlement and providing humanitarian aid for civilians.
"The country is gradually returning to a normal, peaceful life. Some hotspots of tensions remain in the territories that are not controlled by the Syrian government, such as Idlib and the eastern bank of the Euphrates,” Lavrov said, as part of an interview with the Russian newspaper Trud.
He called on opposition to make a constructive contribution to a comprehensive political process in Syria, based on UN Security Council resolution 2254, which was unanimously adopted on December 18, 2015 and demands a ceasefire and political settlement in Syria.
Referring to the Astana process – initiated by Russia and regional powers Iran and Turkey in which a Syrian National Dialogue Congress established a constitutional committee – Lavrov said constitutional reform will help in "advancing the political process” carried out by Syrians themselves, both government and opposition, with the assistance of the UN.
Summarizing Russia’s position on Syria – the foreign minister stressed that Russia seeks to restore Syria’s sovereignty, defeat terrorism and return Syrians to their homeland – and ultimately the country itself to the "Arab family”.
This comes as Arab League members are discussing Syria’s possible return to the organization following its suspension in 2011.
Lavrov said Russia has taken some steps to "support the efforts of the Syrian government in its fight against terrorists, who still remain in the Idlib zone, and promote issues concerning humanitarian assistance and facilitation of the political process in the context of formation of the constitutional committee.”
The Russian foreign minister criticized sanctions that the United States and European countries have slapped on the Syrian government, describing the measures as fully counterproductive.
The Pentagon is preparing to send about 150 troops to northeastern Syria to conduct ground patrols with Turkish military forces in a so-called safe zone, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
Unnamed U.S. military officials told the paper that the final approval of the plan awaits the success of the initial joint ground patrols with Turkish troops in the coming days.
On Tuesday, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the United States was stalling attempts to create a so-called safe zone in northeastern Syria.
On September 8, Turkey's Defense Ministry announced the start of the joint U.S.-Turkish ground patrols east of the Euphrates in northeastern Syria and said the patrols are being supported by unmanned aerial vehicles.
Syria strongly condemned the decision, arguing that the move constitutes a blatant violation of the international law and the Syrian sovereignty.
"The Syrian Arab Republic condemns in the strongest terms the US administration and the Turkish regime for conducting joint patrols in the Syrian al-Jazirah region, which is in flagrant violation of the international law as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria,” an unnamed official source at the Syrian foreign ministry told official news agency SANA.