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Russia urges Syria to expel 'extremists'

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says regime and opposition should work together against "terrorists" in the country.

Last Modified: 22 Jul 2013 10:38
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Lavrov issued his call at the start of a meeting with Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil [AFP]

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has issued a new call for the Syrian government and opposition to work together to expel all "terrorists and extremists" from Syria.

At the start of a meeting with Syrian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Qadri Jamil in Moscow, Lavrov said that last month's agreement in Northern Ireland for the two sides to work together to expel the "extremists" should "become one of the main points of the proposed international peace conference", Interfax news agency reported on Monday.

"To our regret, unlike the government of Syria, a significant part of the opposition, including the National Council, has not expressed such readiness yet" Lavrov said.

Jamil's visit came as Russia and the US seek to convene an international conference on Syria but amid differences over its parameters.

The Syrian government has expressed its willingness to participate in such a meeting as it seeks to subdue the rebels.

Longtime allies Russia and Syria are also discussing the possibility of Moscow extending a loan to Damascus to help Syria's civil war battered economy, Jamil said.

Jamil said that the issue was discussed at talks with Lavrov and that Damascus hoped for an agreement by the end of the year.

"We discussed it, although it is still early to talk in concrete figures," Jamil was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

The Syrian official added that all agreements for Russia's controversial contract to deliver S-300 missile systems to Damascus were still in place.

Al Jazeera's Tim Friend, reporting from Moscow, said Syria "desperately" needs the money. 

"Russia thinks it's early to talk about exact figures but the deal is going to be big and it's going to be agreed before the end of the year" our correspondent said.

Damascus battles

Meanwhile, Syrian activists said government troops had killed at least 75 rebels over 24 hours in battles for control of the capital, Damascus.

The death toll reported by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Monday included 49 fighters killed in an ambush in Damascus' northeastern suburb of Adra early on Sunday.

The group says an elite unit loyal to President Bashar al-Assad ambushed the rebels as they were trying to push into the city.

Syrian state news agency SANA reported the ambush on Sunday, without giving a casualty figure.

The Observatory reported that another 17 rebels died in fighting on Sunday in central Damascus, while another nine were killed in its suburbs.

It was one of the deadliest days for the opposition in the two-year-old conflict, which the Observatory says has killed more than 100,000 people.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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