06:24 GMT28 February 2020
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    Obama administration shielded ex-Nusra militants "to the bitter end" hoping to use the group in overthrowing President Assad, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov said Tuesday.

    "About three years ago, Washington very reluctantly began its war on Daesh after terrorists had killed several US nationals. At the same time, the Obama administration shielded al-Nusra Front [a terrorist organization now known as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham] to the bitter end, hoping to use its militants to topple the legitimate authorities in Damascus," Ryabkov said during a meeting on the US-Russian relations in Russian State Duma.

    Russia is prepared to fight terrorism together with the US in Syria, but this initiative meets barriers imposed by the Obama administration, Ryabkov said.

    Unlike the Obama administration, the new US administration realizes that Bashar Assad is not the main obstacle in the way of the Syrian settlement, Ryabkov pointed out.

    "The new administration seems to understand the situation. It is obvious that the main problem in Syria is not Assad but international terrorism that has nested there," Ryabkov said.

    "It is important that the new administration confirms its wish to fight terrorism till final victory," Ryabkov elaborated.

    Speaking of the legacy that the new US administration has to work with, Ryabkov said that the Obama administration's hysteria that it had leveled against Russia during and after the US presidential election, defied common sense.

    "Completely beyond understanding and common sense was what happened before and after the presidential elections in the United States," Ryabkov told Russian lawmakers. "In the wake of slanderous accusations that Russia interfered in the election process, the Obama administration has stoked Russophobic hysteria to the limit," he said.

    Ryabkov noted that the US ex-president's team made "such an unprecedented step" as "effectively expropriating" Russian property protected by diplomatic immunity on US soil.

    Since 2011, Syria has been engulfed in a civil war, with government forces fighting against numerous opposition and terrorist groups, including Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and Daesh, banned in a range of countries, including Russia.

    Moscow has been conducting a counter-terrorist campaign in Syria since September 30, 2015, at President Bashar Assad's request.

    Tags:
    Russian State Duma, Al-Nusra Front, Daesh, Sergei Ryabkov, Bashar al-Assad, Barack Obama, Syria, United States
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