MOSCOW, November 18 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s foreign minister has blamed Syrian militants for difficulties in delivering humanitarian aid to the war-torn country where armed rebels have been fighting government troops for nearly three years.
In an interview with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta government daily, Sergei Lavrov said there are currently about 100 different militant groups in Syria, “including hardcore terrorists who have been put on relevant lists” linked to al-Qaida.
He said these militant groups often clash with the opposition Free Syrian Army and with rival militant groups.
“Humanitarian aid becomes bounty in which they are interested,” he said. “At this stage, the key problems in its delivery are being created by militants.”
Earlier the Syrian opposition said an international conference on Syria, dubbed Geneva 2, is possible if humanitarian corridors are opened to areas controlled by Syrian authorities. But the Syrian government has agreed to take part in the conference only if there are no set preconditions.
“The fact that the opposition, having agreed to attend the talks, is now setting some kind of humanitarian breakthrough as a condition for its participation is somewhat surprising and causes concern,” Lavrov said, adding that the Geneva 2 conference will never take place if the parties insist on waiting for ideal conditions.
International negotiations are currently underway to reach an agreement on the framework for peace talks on Syria to be held in Geneva that would involve all sides in the Syrian civil war as well as world powers.
Lavrov also expressed concern that the Syrian opposition would receive weapons via humanitarian corridors should they appear.
“As practice shows, in nearly all cases, such corridors are used to transport not only humanitarian aid, but also weapons, money, and other forms of support to opponents of the regime,” he said.