Al-Moallem: Russian escalation is due to terror threat and is important for influencing the West

Damascus, SANA – Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem said Russia’s escalation in Syria came because the Russian side has realized that combating terrorism needs preemptive self-defense operations.

In an interview with the Syrian Television aired Thursday evening, al-Moallem reiterated that cooperation between the armed forces of Syria and Russia is deep and strategic, stressing that the Russians have never been late in providing support to the Syrian army since the outbreak of the crisis.

The recent Russian escalation, he added, however came after the Russians felt that the West wants to further prolong the crisis in Syria and completely destroy the rest of the Syrian infrastructure in service of the Israeli enemy.

In his answer to a question whether Syria needs any friendly forces on the ground in light of the non-stop supply of human force to the terrorist organizations, al-Moallem said “So far the Syrian Arab Army has proved that it is able to perform its missions all across the homeland.”

He, however, added that when there is need for a friendly military presence to fight terrorism, there is no problem in cooperation, citing the presence of the Lebanese Resistance in Qalamoun area and al-Zabadan city as an example of such cooperation.

“What we honestly need is more ammunition and qualitative weapons to face the qualitative armament of the terrorist organizations,” said al-Moallem, noting that the Russian side is providing Syria with assistance, expertise and training.

While stressing that so far there has been no joint Syrian-Russian military fighting on the ground in Syria, al-Moallem said “but if we would feel a need for that, we would study it and ask for it.”

The Minister neither denied nor confirmed news about the arrival of Russian officers, experts, pilots and drones at the military airport in Lattakia or about reports that the Russian forces in Lattakia are there to develop the air base.

What he however affirmed was that Russia, under President Vladimir Putin, stands by the Syrian state and the legitimate government in Damascus and that it is “ready to provide every possible thing when it is necessary for fighting terrorism.”

He referred to Putin’s speech in Dushanbe and the latest statements of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, saying that the Russians “have realized, before others, that fighting terrorism in Syria needs preemptive self-defense operations, and that was why they stepped up weapons and ammunition supply to our army.”

“We should be optimistic,” said al-Moallem, “because the Russian side realizes what is plotted against Syria and realizes the dangers of the spread of ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organizations…That’s why the Russian decision in this regard is clear, and we in Syria welcome this Russian stance.”

On President Putin’s initiative to form a wide front against terrorism, al-Moallem said it was first based on meetings with Arab officials, whose decision is not in their hands but in those of Washington.

He added that President Putin, therefore, recently made a proposal to the US offering military coordination to fight ISIS and terrorism.

Al-Moallem stressed that Syria has no veto against any country, except Israel, that is willing to fight terrorism provided that they are honest and stop conspiring against Syria, noting that Turkey’s position on ISIS has not changed as it still provides support to this terrorist organization and has its borders open to its members.

He said what President Putin is now doing in words and deeds is probably “building a core for that wide alliance, and we welcome that,” pointing out that the escalation in the Russian statements has yielded results in terms of the US having started to retreat from its position as it said yesterday that it welcomes the Russian intervention to fight ISIS and is studying military coordination with Russia to that effect.

“This escalation in statements is very important, and I hope it continues because it has started to influence the West,” al-Moallem added.

Al-Moallem asserted that neither Iran nor Russia or any other country interfere in the Syrian affairs because the national sovereignty is sacred to the Syrians, making clear that Iran and Russia are friends and allies to Syria and that there is deep coordination between Damascus and Tehran and Moscow.

Asked if there is contradiction when Syria stresses on the priority of fighting terrorism before any solution, while it meets with the UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, al-Moallem explained that there is difference between having dialogue among Syrians to find a political solution and between implementing the political solution which could be reached, saying no solution can be implemented before eliminating terrorism.

On the change in the Western stance on Syria, al-Moallem said this change was forced by the steadfastness of the Syrian people and army and the Western countries’s failure to fulfill their plots as they have now started “walking down the path of despair.”

He noted that the West has only woken when terrorism has knocked at its capitals’ doors and when waves of immigrants have swept it, adding that the Western countries are paying for their wrong policies, which they need to review in order to solve the refugees crisis.

He expressed hope that Syria is now out of the bottleneck of the crisis and is heading towards victory and reconstruction, welcoming those who want to participate in rebuilding Syria.

Al-Moallem revealed that he will meet with the Czech President in New York later this month, saying this means that the Czech has realized the importance of holding dialogue with Syria and is looking forward for having a political role in the solution to the crisis and an economic role in the reconstruction process.

With regard to holding Moscow 3 meeting before reaching Geneva 3 conference, al-Moallem clarified that when the Russian side says it wants to hold Moscow 3 this means that the Syrian government and the opposition had accepted completing Moscow’s schedule, adding that this would be a positive point to go for Geneva 3.

Geneva 3, he said, would not succeed without good preparation for it, otherwise it would be doomed to failure just like Geneva 2.

Reem/H. Said

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