"Regarding the situation in Afrin and as far as it is possible to facilitate its settlement; we have already said more than once that it is possible to resolve any and all problems that are still there, even exacerbated in Syria, [based] solely on respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic. And this criterion is universal. It is necessary that all external players, especially those who have a presence in Syria, realize the need to start a dialogue with the Syrian government," Lavrov stated.
Lavrov has explained his stance, saying that he considers the possibility of stopping the bloodshed in Syria through dialogue to be real, thus ensuring the interests of neighboring countries. He urged all ethnic, confessional and other groups inside the country to respect Syrian sovereignity.
The minister urged the Syrian government to start a dialogue with Kurds.
"And the government of the Syrian Republic itself should also be guided by the principle of sovereignty over the entire territory of its country. This means the need to talk with all representatives of ethnic or religious groups, including the Kurds, "Lavrov told journalists at a press conference in Ljubljana on Wednesday.
The Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), also called Rojava, became a self-proclaimed autonomy inside the Syrian stated, recognized by a number of Kurdish organizations in March 2016 on a territory beyond Syria's control in the north of Syria near the border with Turkey. Damascus does not recognize its creation. In so-called Syrian Kurdistan, there are about 4.6 million people, with 2.5 million of them being ethnic Kurds.
US Actions in the Kurdish Issue
The minister went on to say that the US actions in Syria were aimed at separation, which does not contribute to the Syrian settlement.
"The [peace] settlement was not helped by the fact that some time ago a part of the Kurdish population of Syria announced its autonomy. The settlement was not facilitated by the actions taken by the US and the coalition it leads to promote these trends, to promote the autonomization of the Kurds and even to promote the establishment of local governments that were openly presented as disobeying Damascus," Lavrov said.
Armed conflict has been raging in Syria since March 2011. A peace settlement has been discussed at the venues of Astana and Geneva, and the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue, which took place on January 30 this year in Sochi. The latter was the first attempt since the beginning of the conflict to gather a wide range of participants on one negotiating platform.
The tensed situation in the country has lately futher escalated amid the ongoig Turkish military operation dubbed Olive Branch, launched on January 20. The offensive is aimed, as Anakara has repeatedly underlined, at "clearing" the Turkish border with Syria from the terrorist threat, referring to Kurdish YPG militants, considered to be linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Ankara.
Damascus has firmly condemned the operation as an assault on Syria's sovereignty. Moscow, in turn, has urged all the parties to exercise restraint and called to respect Syria's territorial integrity.