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    Fighters from al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate al-Nusra Front. (File)

    Lavrov: Washington Might Be Protecting al-Nusra Front as Tool to Oust Assad

    © AFP 2017/ Fadi al-Halabi / AMC
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    There are reasons to believe that Washington might be protecting al-Nusra Front terrorists in order to use them as a tool to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a joint press conference with Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic in Belgrade on Monday.

    "There is a slew of examples showing that al-Nusra Front somehow evaded the US-led coalition's actions. There were and are solid reasons to believe it was being protected as the most efficient and combat-capable anti-government force on the ground so that it could be used in future to topple the legitimate leadership of Syria," Lavrov said.

    The Russian minister expressed hope that Washington would stop sheltering militants in Syria.

    Russia hopes to reach agreements with the United States on anti-terrorism efforts, but there is little progress yet, Russian Lavrov said.

    "We hope for principled agreements that we will be fighting terrorism uncompromisingly. Those who want to be part of the settlement must immediately join the ceasefire regime, while all the rest will be considered as ones subject to elimination," he said.

    "The process is proceeding slowly yet, although there is consent in principle," he said.

    Syria has been in a state of civil war since 2011, with government forces fighting the Syrian opposition groups striving to overthrow Bashar Assad. Damascus is also fighting numerous extremist and terrorist groups such as the Jabhat Fatah al Sham (previously known as al-Nusra Front) and Daesh, both outlawed in the United States and Russia. According to the United Nations, 300,000 Syrians have died since the beginning of the conflict.

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    Tags:
    terrorism, The Syrian war, Al-Nusra Front, Bashar al-Assad, Sergei Lavrov, Syria, United States, Russia
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