Lavrov: Russia Will Coordinate with U.S. To Liberate Raqqa
May 24, 2016 (EIRNS)—Russia is continuing its flanking operations to box in the Obama Administration on its support to terrorist groups in Syria. This is evident in remarks made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today, in which he raised the issue of U.S.-Russian coordination against terrorist groups. It is also evident that the Obama Administration is not entirely boxed in, yet, but is getting there, as reflected in the State Department briefing of yesterday, where spokesman Mark Toner not only danced around the question of such U.S.-Russian cooperation, but also on whether or not military action should even be taken against the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.
According to Tass, Lavrov said today that Russia is ready to coordinate with the U.S. military to liberate Raqqa.
"I cannot say whether reports that such actions have already started are true, but we are ready for coordination—that I can confirm,"
he said in response to statements by the Kurdish Democratic Union party (PYD) that such operations have already begun, reported Tass. But, Lavrov indicated, Raqqa and Mosul in Iraq
"could have been liberated more effectively and faster if our military officials [of Russia and the United States] would have started coordinating their actions much earlier."
Lavrov went on to say that such coordination may now take place.
"We think that Russian Aerospace Defense Forces and U.S.-led coalitions aviation should work synchronously, in coordination, and help those on the ground to really resist terrorist units,"
Those on the ground include the Syrian Arab Army and the YPG, the armed wing of the PYD. "We have agreed with our American partners, not overnight but through clearing up their doubts and reflections and even overcoming their resistance, to finally switch over from information exchange to coordination of anti-terrorism efforts,"
Lavrov’s statement today followed a telephone conversation yesterday with Secretary of State John Kerry, about which the Russians said that Kerry and Lavrov had discussed joint US-Russian military operations. This Toner denied. In a briefing to reporters yesterday, Toner reiterated previous Obama Administration statements that the United States will not conduct joint operations with the Russians against terrorist groups in Syria.
"What we’re discussing with them is—are proposals for sustainable mechanisms to better monitor, enforce the cessation of hostilities,"
Toner said. "We’re not talking about joint operations."
Otherwise, reporters repeatedly nailed Toner on U.S. demands that Russia not bomb Jabhat Al Nusra, supposedly to protect civilians.
Deputy Secretary of Russia’s Security Council Yevgeny Lukyanov said yesterday—in response, if not to Toner’s statements directly, to U.S. policy in general—that U.S. policy towards Al Nusra and other terrorist groups in Syria is rife with double standards.