05:51 GMT13 August 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Moscow is surprised by the UK Foreign Office's comment that Russia’s withdrawal from the UN deconfliction mechanism in northwest Syria was "unacceptable," the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday, adding that the participation in the mechanism was voluntary.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry noted that the deconfliction mechanism was created in 2014 as an unilateral initiative of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and is not based on international humanitarian law or UN Security Council resolutions.

    "The guidance document regulating the functioning of this mechanism clearly states that it is not a legally binding instrument, and participation in it is purely voluntary", the ministry said.

    It added that while the Syrian government was excluded from the mechanism, the OCHA had signed a declaration on international humanitarian law and aid with militants operating in the Arab country.

    "In view of the foregoing, we are surprised by the statements, in particular, by the secretary of the UK Foreign Office saying that Russia's withdrawal from the deconfliction mechanism is unjustifiable and unacceptable, and violates the norms of international humanitarian law. It is striking that the words were spoken by a representative of the country with the armed forces which inflicted a total of more than 4,500 airstrikes on the territory of Syria and Iraq", the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

    The diplomatic agency added that dozens of civilians were killed during one of such strikes in the Syrian town of Ar Raqqah in 2017 alone.

    On 29 June, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia announced that Russia decided to stop participating in the Syria deconfliction mechanism because it was abused by terrorists. On the same day, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that withdrawing of Russia from the mechanism was "unjustifiable" and "unacceptable."

    Under the mechanism, the United Nations shared the coordinates with the US-led coalition forces, Russia, and Turkey, to protect civilian facilities from possible attacks. From now on, according to Moscow, OCHA should address the issue of deconflicting sites with the Syrian government, which is not a part of the mechanism.

    Tags:
    UN, Syria, UK, Foreign Ministry, Russia
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