Ivan Safronov, Galina Dudina, Mikhail Korostikov
Kommersant, August 30, 2016, p. 3
Very soon, representatives of the Defense Ministry of Russia and Pentagon will conduct consultations about prospects of interaction in Syria. They will have to discuss issues related to separation of the “moderate opposition” and militants and critical situation in Aleppo.
MILITARY OFFICIALS OF RUSSIA AND THE US WILL HAVE TO CONFIRM AGREEMENTS OF DIPLOMATS ON PROSPECTS OF INTERACTION IN SYRIA
Very soon, representatives of the Defense Ministry of Russia and Pentagon will conduct consultations about prospects of interaction in Syria. They will have to discuss issues related to separation of the “moderate opposition” and militants and critical situation in Aleppo. A source in the state structures of Russia announced that an agreement on coordination between the military of Russia and the US on Syria was possible but harsh stance of Pentagon hindered this.
Agreements on intensification of bilateral military contacts were achieved in the course of negotiations of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry. They imply both meetings of experts in Geneva and negotiations between the command of the Russian air base in Syrian Hmeymim and representatives of the US command in Aleppo in Jordan that according to Lavrov have been “stalled” and have “grown limp” lately.
According to military sources, although the consultations have a “technical nature” further steps of Russia and the US in Syria will depend on their results very much. There are two main questions: one is related to separation of the “moderate opposition” and militants of Jabhat al-Nusra (the organization is prohibited in Russia) and the other one is related to the critical situation in Aleppo. In the first case there is a small progress: Kerry handed over to Lavrov a list of the groups that joined the ceasefire regime and received in response lists of the organizations that cooperated with Jabhat al-Nusra (these data were formed predominantly on the basis of reports of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of Russia). According to a source close to the General Staff, the matter of Aleppo requires the “soonest resolving.”
Moscow and Washington are discussing a possibility of delivery of coordinated strikes on militants in Aleppo “approximately from the middle of September” when only those who have not wished to lay down the arms remain in the city and in the vicinity. A top-ranking source says that on the diplomatic level an agreement on coordination of efforts between the servicemen of Russia and the US could be possible but for harsh stance of Pentagon.
Official spokesperson for Pentagon Pieter Cook reports that there is no final agreement on the military component of the Syrian problem between Russia and the US. A Russian source reports that hopes for normal cooperation of the two countries in Syria “depend fully on American partners.” The source said, “They promised to separate the opposition from terrorists half a year ago. This half a year of waiting resulted in serious losses of the governmental forces, a well as big losses of civilians and resulted in serious reinforcement of terrorists who managed to get regrouped and refilled arsenals practically in all key directions. We should understand the entire seriousness of their intentions.”