Sergey Lavrov: The US is trying to divide Syria

Russian foreign minister says US, UK and France ignoring international law after recent missile attacks in Syria.

Foreign Ministers Cavusoglu of Turkey, Lavrov of Russia and Zarif of Iran leave after posing for a family photo in Moscow
Lavrov and his Turkish and Iranian counterparts discussed how to end Syria's war [Grigory Dukor/Reuters]

Sergey LavrovRussia’s foreign minister, has accused the US of trying to divide Syria while ignoring international law by launching missiles into the country.

Lavrov made the accusations on Saturday while meeting his Turkish and Iranian counterparts in Moscow following their talks on the seven-year Syrian war, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people.

The meeting was meant to prepare the groundwork for the ninth round of Astana talks to be held next month in Kazakhstan, which will focus on political and humanitarian issues.

Russia, Iran and Turkey see themselves as guarantor states in negotiations between the Syrian opposition and government.

They say the Astana process, aimed at ending the violence in Syria, is the only way of reducing tensions.

‘Reformatting Middle East’

At the meeting, all three ministers agreed Syria must remain a sovereign and whole entity.

American 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 said, adding Russia, Iran and Turkey will work together to ensure that won’t happen. 

“While we are building options for peace, some of our other colleagues are trying to destroy the results of our joint constructive efforts, not even following the international law like in the recent operation of the US, UK and France against Syria,” Lavrov said.

The joint attack on April 14 targeted suspected chemical weapons infrastructure following an alleged gas attack by government forces on the formerly rebel-held town of Douma, outside Damascus.

Lavrov said the US-led missile strikes on Syria “seriously aggravated the situation”.

‘Destructive to peace’

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu noted it’s important to work with the UN to ensure the legitimacy of a political solution in Syria, as any military solution would be illegal and unsustainable.

However, differences have emerged over the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and whether he should stay in power.

The opposition in Syria – backed by the US, UK and France – have been adamant any political solution cannot include Assad, a view Turkey holds as well. 

“Turkey has always felt that Assad should not really be a part of Syria’s constitutional future,” reported Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands from Moscow.

“The Russians have always said that the opposition needs to get rid of these preconditions because they are destructive to Syria’s peace prospects.”

Talks between Russia, Iran and Turkey have regularly taken place since 2017 in the Kazakh capital, Astana, and are meant to complement the UN-led peace process.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies