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Sunday, March 18, 2018

A fragile truce: the expert called for the sudden meeting, Shoigu and Assad

Against the background of harsh statements of the US state Department on the Syrian issue, the Minister of defence of Russia Sergey Shoigu has caused a sudden visit to Syria and spoken with the President of the Arab Republic Bashar al-Assad and inspected the Russian base Hamim. According to the Russian defense Ministry, during the meeting, Shoigu and Assad discussed the issues of military cooperation and coordination of forces of the two countries in combating terrorist groups.

photo: Gennady Cherkasov

According to the Syrian Ambassador in Russia Riyad Haddad, the Minister and the President discussed “future plans” in the issue of military action. The diplomat noted that the situation was “tense” and require constant interaction. Note that the Shoigu’s trip was made almost immediately after a the US charges in the address of Damascus on the violation of the ceasefire established in February of this year, and reports that about 50 employees of the state Department signed a Memorandum calling for the U.S. leader Barack Obama to put military strikes against Assad’s forces.

“The visit of the Minister of defence of Russia was a surprise to the experts, even though he occasionally visits Syria – said “MK” senior researcher at the Centre for Arab and Islamic studies, Institute of Oriental studies Boris Dolgov. – But the meeting with Assad important. Of course, it is connected with the Memorandum, the employees of the state Department, which demanded that the US authorities take more decisive action against the Syrian government army, and U.S. claims to the actions of the Russian VKS. Shoigu, in my opinion, was convinced on the spot, in what way are the Russian VKS and what is the situation in Syria. Another point about the visit: this is a continuation of the process of signing the agreement on ceasefire of the armed groups that operate against Assad’s army, but they are not radical. This direction is also, in my opinion, was the fact that Shoigu inspected”.

In addition, the apparent “revival” of Western countries on the Syrian track could not fail to attract the attention of Moscow. At the moment troops of the Democratic forces of Syria” (SDF), consisting mainly of Kurdish units are advancing on one of the “capitals” of the “Islamic state” (a group banned in Russia) Raqqa, with the support of the US and, according to some, a number of European countries. According to the interlocutor of “MK”, this, coupled with harsh statements of the state Department “suggests that the West has intensified its actions in Syria, primarily to change the regime”. “Shoigu’s visit was aimed at reconnaissance and counter-intentions of our partners,” – said the “MK” Boris Dolgov.

The tension between Moscow and Washington caused by the recent statement by the Pentagon that the Russian VKS June 16, launched air strikes on the positions of the Syrian moderate factions in al-Tarife. However, the defense Ministry has not denied these reports. Agency spokesman Igor Konashenkov explained that the struck Russian planes were within 300 km of the places which were marked with USA as a territory, which are involved in the truce group. According to him, attacks were made within the established agreements. Russian and American military officials have discussed the incident videoconference.

“Sometimes it is difficult to determine which faction is radical and what is not – explained “MK” Boris Dolgov. – If to speak in military terms, on the ground they are sometimes located close to one another. Sometimes the group that signed the agreement, then violate it and operates under a different name, included in the coalition with some radical groups, and then exits. In these circumstances, strikes may. When I was in Syria, this tactic was observed. Sometimes field commanders act autonomously”.

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