14:29 GMT03 December 2020
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    Last summer, US President Barack Obama announced plans to train and equip more than 5,000 moderate Syrian rebels to take on the ISIL, but has only prepared some 60 fighters so far.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The intention of the United States to provide air support to Syrian opposition forces could lead to certain mistakes that would undermine the situation in the region, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Sunday.

    "We [Lavrov and US State Secretary John Kerry] discussed the US plans to send people they trained to fight against Islamic State to Syria and to defend them with air power if the IS [ISIL] tried to fight them off… I warned my colleague that a fatal mistake could undermine the situation and no one would be able to control it," Lavrov told Rossiya-1 television.

    He said that US air support could potentially lead to civilian casualties because the United States did not have forces on the ground in Syria and, thus, proper intelligence data, like they had in Afghanistan.

    Lavrov said he had proposed to his US counterpart to abandon double standards and to use support to the broader coalition of forces fighting ISIL, including the Syrian army and Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

    Russia offered the United States a "two-track" approach to fighting Islamic State militants in Syria that includes the creation of a coalition and support of political process, Lavrov said.

    "This two-track approach includes the formation of a coalition and the stimulating of political process that would support this coalition, because the political process should involve all Syrian forces — political forces, as well as armed groups formed by patriotic soldiers."

    Russia insists on abandoning double standards in order to effectively fight ISIL terrorist group, the Russian top diplomat said.

    "We have discussed with [US Secretary of State] John Kerry the issues that arise from the initiative of [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin about the need to form a united, consolidated front against Islamic State. And just as in all other situations, we simply offer to clear our views, […] and cleanse our approach from some double standards based on opportunistic attempt to approach a given situation and divide terrorists into good and bad."

    Lavrov said that having double standards and letting terrorist groups "do their job, and then we will deal with them" could not be a good strategy.

    "Exactly the opposite happens. After Saddam Hussein was overthrown and there is a terrorist threat in Iraq, which was not there before. After the overthrow of [Libyan leader Muammar] Gaddafi, the very same people who helped overthrowing him and who were armed by the West now pose a direct terrorist threat with these weapons, and have joined the ranks of the Islamic State and many other [terrorist] structures," the minister said.

    According to Lavrov, Russia still believes the joint fight against Islamic State to be possible.

    Related:

    US, Turkey Struggle to Define Syrian 'Moderates' for Proposed 'Safe Zone'
    US and Turkey to Provide Air Cover for 'Moderate' Syrian Rebels
    US Should Back Moderate Muslims to Deter Homegrown Extremism
    Tags:
    Daesh, moderate Syrian rebels, Russia, US, Syria
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