MOSCOW, August 29. /TASS/. Washington’s efforts to carry out ‘regime change’ in Syria have failed, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday.

“This is not the first time different US administrations place the task of changing the regimes they dislike above common goals of eradicating terrorism and extremism. This was in Iraq and Libya, and they are trying to do so in Syria, I would even say they tried to do so in Syria and they failed,” Lavrov stressed.

Situation in Idlib

Moscow calls for separating Syrian opposition from Jabhat al-Nusra (terror group outlawed in Russia) in Idlib and simultaneously carrying out an operation against terrorists.

“Moscow and Ankara [Turkey is responsible for maintaining stability in the Idlib de-escalation zone] have full political understanding. There is the need to separate normal armed opposition members from gunmen from Jabhat al-Nusra and simultaneously prepare an operation against those terrorists making every effort to minimize risks for the civilian population,” Lavrov stressed.

The impending provocation in Syria’s Idlib Governorate that will most likely involve the use of chemical weapons stems from the US striving to avert the expulsion of Jabhat al-Nusra from there, Lavrov added. 

“This issue and the threats made to the Syrian government in connection with it pursue only one goal, namely, to avert an expulsion of terrorists from the Idlib de-escalation zone,” Lavrov said. “This began back in the times of the Obama Administration when the Americans sought to deflect blows from Jabhat al-Nusra by hook or by crook in a hope to use it in the struggle with the regime, as they put it.”.

Terrorists in Idlib are trying to hold civilians hostage to be used as human shields and this festering ‘abscess’ has to be eliminated, he said. 

“The primary focus of the meeting between the Russian and Turkish foreign and defense ministers in Moscow with the participation of the special services was on Idlib,” Lavrov said.

“For understandable reasons, Idlib is the last major stronghold of terrorists who are trying to gamble on the status of the de-escalation zone and hold civilians as human shields and bring the armed formations ready for negotiations with the Syrian government to their knees. So, from all standpoints, this ‘abscess’ has to be liquidated,” the Russian foreign minister said.

Russia hopes that the Western partners will not hamper the anti-terrorist operation against Jabhat al-Nusra.

“Getting back to the subject of assertions on the chemical attacks allegedly plotted by the Syrian government, I hope that the Western partners who are stoking this issue will not connive at provocations and setups nor impede the anti-terrorist operation against Jabhat al-Nusra,” Lavrov said. “[Jabhat] al-Nusra is regarded as a terrorist organization both in the UN and the US.”

“I hope that our partners will fulfil their obligations in the war on terror,” the minister noted.

Syrian constitutional committee

Moscow and Riyadh have a shared approach to forming a Syrian constitutional committee, Lavrov said at a joint press conference with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir.

“Russia and Saudi Arabia have a shared approach to the formation of a Syrian constitutional committee and the launch of talks between the government and the opposition, which should involve civil society members,” the Russian top diplomat noted.

“We are particularly grateful to our Saudi friends for the role they played in uniting the Syrian opposition forces and ensuring that members of the Moscow and Cairo group are also engaged,” he added.

Lavrov also said that he had informed his Saudi counterpart “about the efforts Russia has been making in coordination with the countries of the region in order to create conditions for the return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their places of permanent residence in Syria.

“We call on the United Nations and all its agencies to play a more active role in creating conditions for the return of refugees and displaced persons, including the modernization and reconstruction of social and economic infrastructure facilities,” the Russian foreign minister stressed.

According to Lavrov, Russia and Saudi Arabia both stand for “finding early solutions to the conflicts in Yemen and Lybia, based on mediation efforts made by United Nations special envoys for these countries.”

Participants in the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, held in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on January 30, decided to establish a constitutional committee that will work on the country’s new constitution together with United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. The full candidate list will comprise 150 people, including 100 representatives of the Syrian government and domestic opposition, as well as 50 members of the foreign-based opposition. The UN envoy suggested that the committee should consist of no more than 50 members.

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