Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has strongly urged the US to immediately shut down its so-called zone of control in southern Syria, saying Washington has practically made the area a safe haven for terrorists of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front.
The Russian top diplomat was referring to a 55-kilometer zone near the southeastern Syrian town of al-Tanf, in Homs Province, which the US unilaterally declared to be under its protection last year. Among other things, it contains the Rukban refugee camp, which, according to Moscow, is home to many terrorists, including those of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham outfit.
“Inside the al-Tanf zone, which the Americans unilaterally declared under their protection, and inside the refugee camp” terrorists “are regularly reported to recover strength,” Lavrov said at the Valdai Club conference on the Middle East in Moscow on Monday.
“On several occasions they conducted raids from there into other territory of the Syrian Arab Republic. This zone must be shut down immediately,” he further said, adding that the US was turning a blind eye to such abuses of its protection.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Lavrov also criticized, without mentioning by name, some member states of the UN Security Council for being hesitant to say that the humanitarian convoys could not enter the US-controlled al-Tanf zone, because Washington “would not guarantee their safety.”
“Instead they focus attention on the humanitarian situation in Idlib or Eastern Ghouta,” he said, adding that Russia has increasing evidence that the US has no intention of fighting the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham outfit.
Lavrov also dismissed reports that hundreds of Russians had been killed in Syria recently, saying that such reports were an attempt to use improper means to exploit the war in the Arab country.
On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denounced the presence of US forces in al-Tanf, saying the so-called zone of control had become a shelter for the remaining members of Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.
Russia has time and again accused the US of attempting to hamper a Syrian full victory against Daesh, which is on its last legs in eastern Syria and in neighboring Iraq. Moscow has already released evidence revealing that US forces deployed in Dayr al-Zawr’s border regions and in Jordan have been collaborating with Daesh and other terrorists, including those of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, through providing intelligence about Syrian and Russian forces.
Moscow has backed Syria’s fight against terror since September 2015 when Russian air force and troops arrived in the Arab country at an official request of Damascus to help the government fight against Daesh and other Takfiri terrorists. Russia’s assistance has proved to be a major success as Syria has managed to liberate key areas over the past years, including the country’s second largest city, Aleppo.
Washington and its allies back militants fighting to topple the Syrian government. They have also been bombarding what they call Daesh positions inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate. The US strikes, however, have on many occasions resulted in civilian casualties and failed to fulfill their declared aim of countering terrorism.