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Moscow warns against introduction of no-fly zone in Syria

February 18, 15:56 UTC+3
The Russian Foreign Ministry is satisfied with progress in humanitarian sphere in Syria
Material has 1 page
Russian Foreign Ministry building in Moscow

Russian Foreign Ministry building in Moscow

© Natalya Garnelis/TASS

MOSCOW, February 18. /TASS/. The introduction of the no-fly zone in Syria will only result in the "Libyan scenario", Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

"The statements on a no-fly zone were made by the German chancellor, but this is not her idea, the idea is not new, it was promoted by Turkey," the diplomat said. "Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov has pointed out that this proposal should be coordinated with the official Damascus. No one cancelled the country’s sovereignty."

"No one wants the ‘Libyan scenario’. The international community has already experienced this concept," she said. "The result is visible not only in Libya, rather, it is not seen in Libya at all. However, it is seen far beyond Libya’s borders - in Europe."

According to Zakharova, the proposal for a no-fly zone over Syria should be coordinated with Damascus.

The proposal to create a no-fly zone along the Syrian-Turkish border has been earlier voiced by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She said the attacks carried out by Russia and Syrian government forces were not in line with the resolution passed by the UN Security Council in December and the efforts to reduce the violence. 

Merkel said it would be good if Assad, his allies and the anti-Islamic State coalition reached an agreement ensuring the creation of "a kind of no-fly zone" to protect civilians from bombings on the territory between Aleppo and the Turkish border.

The United States has not backed the proposal on no-fly zones in Syria.

Any invasion of Syria will be illegal

According to Zakharova, any invasion of Syria would be illegitimate, the countries in the region must comply with international law.

"Any invasion into the territory of a sovereign country is illegitimate. This is commonplace truth," she said. "Syria has already raised the issue of the situation on the Syrian-Turkish border, there was a relevant discussion. Any invasion would be illegitimate."

"As for scenario modeling, we hope that the regional countries in their planning will proceed from legal consciousness and norms of international law rather than from what they want. Discussions are under way about the terrorist threat from Syrian territory. But who nurtured extremists supplying arms there?" Zakharova noted.

In early February, the Saudi authorities said they were ready to send troops to take part in the ground military operation in Syria. A similar statement was made by the United Arab Emirates. Bahrain too confirmed that it would send troops to Syria, if this decision was taken within the international coalition. These Gulf states argue their willingness to intervene militarily in Syria stems from the need to combat terrorism, particularly, the Islamic State terrorist group (outlawed in Russia).

On Monday, Saudi Defense Ministry adviser Gen.Ahmed Asiri announced that the kingdom’s armed forces had begun preparations for a ground operation in Syria.

No evidence that Russia’s airstrikes destroyed hospitals in Syria

Zakharova told reporters there is no evidence that Russia’s Aerospace Forces are involved in destroying hospitals in Syria.

"There are simply no facts, as always, either direct or even indirect pointing to the involvement of Russia’s Aerospace Forces in the destruction of these hospitals (in Syria)," Zakharova said.

The diplomat said Turkey and other countries accuse Moscow that Russia’s Aerospace Forces bomb civilian facilities, including hospitals where members of international organization Doctors Without Borders work.

Zakharova stressed that at the talks in Geneva the delegation of this organization said that they had no grounds to accuse anyone specifically of carrying out airstrikes on the hospitals.

Moscow regrets that Turkey continues spreading lies about Russia

According to Zakharova, Moscow regrets that Ankara continues its attempts to discredit Russia’s efforts in the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group.

"Against the background of the terrorism activity intensification in the region when we really should close the ranks for combating this evil, we are faced with strange and sometimes inadequate statements by Turkey that is only stirring up this rhetoric aimed at discrediting the Russian efforts in the fight against Islamic State and in the Syrian settlement process," Zakharova said.

"The statements suggesting that the Russian side is allegedly involved in the purposeful extermination of the Syrian civilian population are absolutely false," the diplomat said.

Previously, Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov said in an interview with TASS that Turkey has been recently more often issuing unfounded accusations, in particular, "that Russia’s military aircraft allegedly violate the airspace." "Most often, this misinformation launches anti-Russian campaigns in the Turkish mass media or becomes their part," he added.

Turkey’s statements on Russia’s alleged support of IS totally unacceptable 

Moscow believes that Turkish officials’ statements that Russia lends hidden support to the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group (outlawed in Russia) are absolutely inadmissible.

"Of course, the Turkish officials’ statements alleging that Russia gives hidden support to ISIS (former name of IS) are totally unacceptable," Maria Zakharova said. "Mr.Davutoglu [Turkish Prime Minister], are you serious or are you kidding? If this is a joke, in my opinion, now everyone, all the more so Turkey, should give more time not to irony or sarcasm, but to specific actions to counter terrorism. At any rate, I believe this is what Turkish citizens expect from you."

"It is amazing to hear these statements by the head of government whose actions in the southeast of his country have forced about 200,000 residents to flee their homes, with more than 500 civilians killed," the diplomat said.

Russia is not against participation of Turkish businessmen in International Economic Summit in Kazan in May

Russia is not opposing participation of Turkish businessmen in the International Economic Summit in Kazan in May, Foreign Ministry’s official representative Maria Zakharova told a briefing.

"We are open for the Turkish business. If Turkish businessmen are interested in attending the forum in Kazan as well as other forums and to develop economic potential of the relations we will only welcome it," she said.

"The worsening of the Russian-Turkish relations due to the tragedy of November 2015 is obvious, we don’t hide our motivation. But at the same time, as the Russian leadership stressed it, despite the fact that it inevitably affect citizens of the two countries we proceed from the fact that Russian-Turkish relations should be and develop," she said.

Moscow satisfied with progress in humanitarian sphere in Syria

The Russian Foreign Ministry is however satisfied with progress in humanitarian sphere in Syria.

"Active work is being carried out on the basis of the communique adopted in Munich," Zakharova said. "It is being carried out in two spheres in two groups. The meeting of the first group on humanitarian issues has already taken place. It not only took place and proved successful but also has practical results. The work in this sphere has already started in practice," she added.

"We are in fact satisfied with how work in the humanitarian sphere is proceeding and how promptly the Syrian authorities make active efforts in this direction," Zakharova said.

The meeting of the group on cessation of hostilities in Syria will take place on Friday, February 19, the diplomat noted adding that Russia is ready for any kind of work. "We were ready for it from the start. From our side, there can be no obstacles and delays for starting a very active and fruitful work. Consequently, we expect the same from our partners," she concluded.

Russia to continue air task force operation in Syria to fight terrorism

The agreement on ceasefire in Syria doesn’t stop the struggle against terrorism, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

"No doubt, the ceasefire or the termination of violence agreed in Munich and prescribed in detail in the Munich accords and expected to be discussed and worked out within a specific group now doesn’t mean the cessation of the struggle against terrorism," the Russian diplomat said.

"The struggle against terrorism will be continued," she added.

"The main and principally important moment now is the termination of violence and the continuation of the struggle against terrorism so that no one can accuse anyone else of delivering wrong strikes and against wrongfully targeted forces," Zakharova said.

Over the period of several months, "the Russian Federation has urged to cooperate and interact in the military sphere," the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.

"The process has got off the ground," she added.

"We have been heard after Munich because the situation really reached the point when it was no longer possible to fail to respond to it," the spokeswoman said.

"We proceed from the fact that military specialists will organize coordination and will coordinate corresponding steps. We understand and proceed from this and, as the Russian leadership and the foreign minister said, the Russian air task force operation will be continued with regard to the struggle against terrorism," the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

"This is what was also conditioned following the results of the Munich meeting," she added.

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