Moscow, SANA -Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem affirmed that Turkey’s downing of the Russian warplane is an “act of aggression” that encroaches on the sovereignty of Syria as the plane was shot down in Syrian airspace, adding that Turkey has failed to provide any clear evidence regarding this incident.
In a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, al-Moallem stressed that Turkey is supporting terrorist organizations with weapons and facilitating their movements through the Turkish lands and securing their families.
Al-Moallem hailed the stances of the Russian leadership towards Syria, mainly the efforts exerted by minister Lavrov in promoting the political process in Vienna, noting that these stances reflect the depth of the strategic alliance between Syria and Russia, describing his talks with minister Lavrov as “frank and constructive”.
Addressing those who are demanding President Bashar al-Assad to step down, al-Moallem said “You are delusional and the reason is obvious because President al-Assad believes in the right of Syrian people to self-determination and will not allow anyone to take this right away,” said Al-Moallem.
The minister pointed out that the Russian Air Force in cooperation with Syrian Arab Army had put an end to the dreams of Erdogan which prompted Turkey to mount this aggression.
Al-Moallem said that Turkey continues to provide a cover for ISIS oil smuggling operations from Syria and Iraq into Turkey before heading to ports abroad.
Al-Moallem challenged the US Secretary of State John Kerry to offer a single piece of evidence that the Syrian side is striking oil deals with ISIS. “After all, it is not his first lie,” al-Moallem mocked.
Commenting on the statements of the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, al-Moallem told journalists that Syria has always pointed to Europe’s wrong handling of the crisis in Syria, repeatedly warning that terrorism will backfire on those who support it and regretting that Britain and France are leading the European efforts against Syria’s legitimate government.
Fabius’ overtures and willingness to cooperate with the Syrian army, if proven genuine, is welcome, al-Moallem added, but said a drastic change is need in the approach to the Syrian crisis.
In turn, Lavrov confirmed that Russia will offer all it can to help Syria in combating terrorism, preserving its national unity, rebuilding it and providing Syria with the effective support on the international level.
Lavrov issued a blistering criticism against the statements of some Syria’s neighboring countries in which they fake commitment to UN counter-terrorism resolutions while “playing their own games” by forging alliances with terrorists, describing their conduct as “very impudent.”
He questioned Turkey’s interest in eliminating terrorism and restoring security and stability in Syria, voicing Russia’s full readiness to cooperate with all countries who want to fight terrorism which are part of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition that has so far “yielded no tangible results.”
Lavrov said it is important to prepare a list of terrorist organizations which ought to be kept away from any political process and excluded from any potential ceasefire agreement. If this does not happen, he added, Vienna meeting won’t bear fruit.
He pointed out the need to hold Syrian-Syrian dialogue which brings together the Syrian government and part of the opposition adding that all the parties concerned should contribute to supporting a peaceful political process and exert their efforts to launch dialogue.
“The essence of the Vienna talks stipulates that the Syrians should determine the future of their country without outside interference, adding that Russia opposes Western attempts to come up with candidates for Syria’s leadership,” Lavrov added.
Commenting on the downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber by the Turkish Air Force, Lavrov wondered if Turkey is interested in combating terrorism in Syria and in the efforts to achieve stability and security.
Lavrov criticized Turkey’s contradicting statements concerning the downing of the Russian aircraft, particularly claiming that the Turkish air force did not recognize the jet to be Russian, only to contradict this later by stating that Turkey would have responded in the same way had any other jet violated its airspace.
Pointing to stepped up procedures against Turkey, Lavrov said Russia has decided to freeze the visa waiver system with Turkey in fear of “real, not hypothetical threats”.
Lavrov said eliminating ISIS is a necessity and Syria’s neighboring countries have a special responsibility in this confirming that combating terrorism in the Middle East requires abandoning double standard policies.
The minister said Russia strongly supports French President Francois Hollande’s statement about the necessity of closing the Turkish-Syrian borders, indicating that practical steps need to be taken in coordination with the Syrian government to defeat terrorism in Syria.
Al-Moallem: Syrian army making advances on all fronts backed by Russian air force
Earlier on Friday, the minister al-Moallem said the Syrian army is making progress on all fronts backed by the Russian air force.
During a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Friday, al-Moallem thanked the Russian leadership under President Vladimir Putin for its sincere efforts in supporting Syria against terrorism.
He affirmed that the Russian airstrikes in Syria have so far outdone by hundred times the Us-led coalition in the fight against ISIS, expressing sincere condolences over the death of the Russian pilot whose aircraft was downed by Turkey, describing it as a “stab in the back.”
“We have been at the receiving end of such stabs for over five years,” al-Moallem said.
Lavrov, for his part, said his country highly appreciates the Syrian government’s commitment to counterterrorism, vowing continued support for Syria to rout terrorists.
“We will continue providing all the necessary assistance to Syria in its war against terrorism in parallel with launching a political process,” added Lavrov, thanking the Syrian army for rescuing the Russian pilot whose aircraft was shot down by Turkey and for providing protection for the Russian embassy in Damascus.
“The Turkish leadership has crossed the line of what is acceptable and risks putting Turkey in a most severe situation,” he warned.