Lavrentiev: US military presence in Syrian territory is illegal

Astana, SANA – Head of the Russian delegation to Astana 5 meeting, Alexander Lavrentiev, announced on Thursday that the results of Astana meeting were not a big step forward but were in the right direction towards stabilizing the situation and trying to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria.

Lavrentieve said in an interview with RT that he evaluates the results of this round of Astana talks as positive, yet not all the goals have been achieved, adding that “we will count that what we have not been able to solve during this round, we will seek to solve during our next rounds of talks.”

Regarding the de-escalation zones, Lavrentiev pointed out that the concept of these zones is established, but there are difficulties in reaching consensus on the lines of the zones.

Lavrentiev said that defining the lines of the des-escalation zones is still in the stage of coordination between the guarantors countries’ experts, noting that the talk has been about the need to find a mechanism that allows approving the fixed regime of the cessation of hostilities in these zones on a consistent basis by using various mechanisms, including following-up and monitoring.

He noted that those who will monitor are not combat formations, but military observers, and that there will be the military police from the Russian side that will serve as military observer.

The head of the Russian delegation said that work within the documents that are currently being drafted will include preparing a package of measures, including military pressure on those who violate the cessation of hostilities regime, adding that this issue is being discussed at the experts level with the US, clarifying that Russia has expected more active participation from the American side in terms of pressuring the armed groups “but this seems to be a future issue.”

Lavrentiev confirmed his country rejection of the US drafting of the “de-confliction zones” because they are artificial formations, noting that the US has designated the Syrian al-Tanf area near the Iraqi border as a “de-confliction” area bilaterally.

He went on saying that Russia considers this act “arbitrary” and “illegal”, especially that the U.S. troops are present on Syrian territory without any approval.

He stressed that the strikes of the US–led coalition against the Syrian Arab Army positions are completely unacceptable and unjustified.

Lavrentiev said Moscow believes that the Americans should open the way for the Syrian army to reach the Syrian-Iraqi border to establish full control there, and hopes that after the full destruction of all factions of ISIS terrorist organization in Syria, there will be no place for US military units in Syria if they do not obtain approval from the legitimate Syrian government.

Shaza/H. Said

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