Russia’s foreign minister said Saturday the United States is trying to divide Syria.
During a meeting with his counterparts from Iran and Turkey, Sergey Lavrov said the recent U.S.-led missile strikes on Syria “seriously aggravated the situation.”
He added that statements about supporting the territorial integrity of Syria “are only words that, apparently, cover plans for reformatting the Middle East and plans for dividing Syria into parts.”
Lavrov met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. Russia, Iran and Turkey are the guarantor states in the so-called “Astana process” aimed at ending the violence in Syria.
Now Playing: Russia, Iran and Turkey continue to seek political solution in Syria
The foreign ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey have been holding talks in Moscow on the conflict in Syria with all three countries agreeing that a political solution should be sought despite Western missile strikes. The three ministers condemned the attacks by the US, Britain and France, and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said foreign intervention could inhibit the peace process. “Our aim is to find the political solution, to reach the political solution in Syria,” he said. “I agree with Zarif that the best solution is political solution and any military solution is illegal and unsustainable.” His Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov went even further saying: “We have to acknowledge the ongoing attempts to obstruct efforts to improve dialogue between Syrians. “It turns out that while we are together creating some progress, some of our colleagues are trying to destroy the results of joint constructive efforts, not paying attention to this or to violations of international law. I refer in particular to the US-British-French action against Syria on April 14.” And Iran repeated its claims that western intervention was damaging. “We have already condemned the use of chemical weapons regardless of the victims or culprits,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. “But we do not believe that taking the law into somebody’s own hands for political gains can do anything but further complicate the situation.” Russia and Iran have been the principal backers of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s while Ankara has been at odds with Damascus over several issues. The three countries have been working closely for two years to end the seven-year civil war which has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of citizens.
The three agreed to intensify efforts to provide humanitarian aid in Syria.
“We will ensure that this aid is provided in the most effective way. We will be cooperating with the government, the opposition and of course with our counterparts at the United Nations, the International Red Cross, the Syrian Red Crescent and other international organizations,” Lavrov said.
International aid groups have repeatedly accused the Syrian government, which is closely allied with Russia and Iran, of preventing the delivery of aid to besieged, rebel-held areas.
Lavrov also reiterated Russia’s contention that the alleged chemical weapons attack on the town of Douma earlier this month was an “artificial pretext” for the missile strikes by the U.S., Britain and France.
The ministers issued a joint statement condemning chemical attacks and said any reports of their use should be “investigated promptly and professionally” by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. An OPCW team was repeatedly delayed in attempts to reach Douma to probe the reported attack.
Cavusoglu meanwhile criticized the United States for supporting Syria’s main Kurdish militia, which played a key role in rolling back the Islamic State group and now controls much of northern and eastern Syria. Turkey views the Kurdish fighters as an extension of the Kurdish insurgency raging in its southeast.
“Today, the US supports terrorist organizations, and this has to stop,” Cavusoglu said.