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Moscow expects Riyadh’s explanations on participation in anti-IS operation in Syria

February 18, 20:48 UTC+3
It is necessary to coordinate any military action in Syria, including the ground operation, with this country’s authorities or through UN SC mechanisms, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister says
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© AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy

MOSCOW, February 18. /TASS/. Moscow is waiting for specific explanations from Riyadh regarding Saudi Arabia’s plans for participation in the operation against the terrorist group Islamic State (outlawed in Russia) in Syria, special presidential representative for the Middle East and African countries, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told TASS on Thursday.

"One should be aware what plans our Saudi partners have. We have no specifics at this point, only statements. They are sending some planes to Turkish territory," he said. At the same time Bogdanov added that Riyadh had so far not joined any of the mechanisms of coordinating operations in Syria. In the meantime, we have such coordination mechanisms, including our contacts between our military and Israel and the four-party mechanism in Baghdad, which is open to all those who wish to participate in the coordination of information regarding joint struggle against terrorists," Bogdanov said.

"So far, the Saudis have not joined any of these mechanisms. If they want (to act jointly) with Americans, they should coordinate their participation in the anti-ISIS coalition (ISIS is former name of IS - TASS)," he added. According to Bogdanov, Saudi Arabia expressed its readiness to take part in the fighting in Syria, not but unilaterally. "They are ready to take part in the fighting, but not on a unilateral basis. The decision on their participation should be taken, for example, by the anti-ISIS coalition," he said.

Possible ground operation in Syria must be agreed with Damascus or UN SC

According to Mikhail Bogdanov, it is necessary to coordinate any military action in Syria, including the ground operation, with this country’s authorities or through UN Security Council mechanisms.

"We believe that, just like Iraq, Syria is a sovereign state. It has a central authoritative power, and [such ground operation — TASS] should be coordinated with it," he said. "Alternatively, this issue should be addressed in the collective format within the UN Security Council. [It is necessary] to develop a consolidated decision on what is the best way to counter terrorists in Syria."

However, he expressed doubts that such operation would be technically possible. "I have no notion of how Saudi Arabia will be sending ground troops either to Jordan or to Turkey. As we know, Turkey has no border with Saudi Arabia. Of course, troops could be deployed with the help of aircraft," Bogdanov added.

Establishment of no-fly zone in Syria impossible, inexpedient

The establishment of a no-fly zone in Syria in conditions of an operation being held there to fight the Islamic State terrorist group, banned in Russia, is impossible and inexpedient, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told a TASS correspondent Thursday.

"What no-fly zone can we talk about when aircraft of the anti-ISIL coalition led by the United States fly there, when the Aerospace Forces of the Russian Federation continue their operation coordinated with the official Syrian authorities," Bogdanov, who is also the Russian president’s special representative on the Middle East and Africa, said answering a relevant question.

"How would we fight terrorists jointly with Western partners, having in mind that it is necessary to deliver strikes at the positions of militants, weapons depots, infrastructure that financially feeds terrorists?" he said.

US realizes importance of Kurds’ participation in Syrian opposition delegation

The United States realizes the importance of the Syrian Kurds’ participation in the delegation of the Syrian opposition, Ankara does not show similar understanding, Russian presidential envoy for the Middle East and Africa, Mikhail Bogdanov went on to say.

"Currently, the Kurdish Self-Defense Forces control about 15% of Syria’s territory. Naturally, the Kurds have the same right, just like any other citizens of Syria, to take part in the political process," he said. "The Americans have a significant level of understanding of this factor. Unfortunately, our Turkish partners who are members of and participants in the International Syria Support Group do not have this understanding to date."

Moscow believes that Kurds "must necessarily take part in both the discussions on the ceasefire and in the geopolitical process," Bogdanov noted. Otherwise, a considerable part of Syrian territory just falls out of the geopolitical settlement process.

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