Russian Pullout of Syria Positive for Ceasefire

Russian Pullout of Syria Positive for CeasefireRussian Pullout of Syria Positive for Ceasefire

Russia’s move to begin withdrawing from Syria should be seen as a positive sign for the ceasefire, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday.

Speaking in Canberra after meeting with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop, Zarif underlined Iran’s stance on the need for a ceasefire and a political solution in Syria.

“The fact that a semi-ceasefire has been holding in Syria is welcome news; it’s something that we’ve been asking for at least two-and-a-half, three years,” he said.  

“The fact that Russia announced that it is withdrawing part of its forces indicates that they don’t see an imminent need for resort to force in maintaining the ceasefire. That in and of itself should be a positive sign. Now we have to wait and see.”

Zarif said while the ceasefire did not include Daesh, the self-styled Islamic State militant group, and the Al-Qaeda-linked extremist group Al-Nusra Front or their collaborators, the international community was united against them.

“The message that the international community has been sending to Daesh and should be sending to Daesh and other extremist organizations, is that our fight against them is relentless,” Zarif said, according to AFP.

“We will not stop and I believe the entire international community is united in that.”

Zarif said he did not think anybody should consider Daesh or other extremist organizations as a leverage “even for temporary political gains”.

“And I hope that message can be driven home everywhere in the region, particularly as we see more and more instances of carnage in terrorism in our region carried out by Daesh,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called longstanding ally Bashar al-Assad on Monday to inform him that Moscow will withdraw the bulk of its forces from Syria, a move hailed by the United Nations Security Council as a “positive step” for the fraught peace negotiations.

But hopes for a breakthrough at the ongoing Geneva talks on Syria remain remote, with both sides locked in a bitter dispute over the future of Syrian president.