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    Syrian Humanitarian Issues Must Be Left Outside Political Agenda – Moscow

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    Russia is warning against including humanitarian issues on the Syrian political agenda with the aim of exerting pressure on the government of Syria, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said.

    BRUSSELS (Sputnik) – Speaking to Russian journalists after a Wednesday Brussels conference on Syria, Gatilov stressed that "there must be no double standards in providing humanitarian aid [to Syria]" and warned against supporting the idea that reconstruction can only be accomplished in Syria after peace and stability are restored.

    The Russian deputy foreign minister pointed out that the majority of the Syrian population resides in areas under the control of the government, not the opposition or terrorist-controlled regions. Gatilov emphasized that it is detrimental to insist that aid should only be sent to areas not under Damascus control.

    "We are in support of humanitarian issues not being used on the political agenda and for political purposes, because, unfortunately, this tendency is seen on the part of some of our colleagues, there should be no urge to use the problems of the Syrian people to exert pressure on the Syrian government for certain purposes," Gatilov told journalists, adding that the tendency of "some of our partners to have the aid be provided only to blocked areas and hard-to-reach areas that are not under the control of the Syrian government is harmful."

    The Russian deputy foreign minister also stressed that Russia provides no less support to Syrians than other international players.

    "We are accomplishing this through international humanitarian agencies and organizations, through the UN system and, of course, on a bilateral basis, almost daily," Gatilov stressed.

    The European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides announced on Wednesday that the Syria Donors Conference in Brussels raised $6 billion in financial aid for the Middle Eastern country for 2017.

    The commissioner stressed that humanitarian aid was not a solution to the Syrian crisis and not an alternative to the political settlement process taking place under UN auspices in Geneva. Russia-Turkey-Iran backed Astana talks on upholding the Syrian ceasefire are also an important platform to prevent fighting and thus enable humanitarian access, Stylianides said.

    The Russian Defense Ministry releases daily bulletins of the Syrian reconciliation center informing of regular Russian humanitarian aid deliveries to various parts of Syria. Russian planes have also been helping with the distribution of UN aid in Syria, particularly in the Deir ez-Zor area.

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