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G7: 'Russia Has Potential to Defeat Daesh, Restore Unified Syria'

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Su-34 bomber jet - Sputnik International
G7 foreign ministers agreed that Russia is capable of obliterating terrorism and restoring peace in Syria.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russia has the potential to help resolve the conflict in Syria, to defeat terrorism including the Daesh terrorist group, the G7 foreign ministers said in a joint communique Tuesday.

"Russia has the potential to help resolve the conflict and restore a stable and unified Syria, and defeat ISIL/Da'esh and terrorism," the communique published after the meeting in Italy's Lucca said.

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Since September 2015 Russian Aerospace Forces have been carrying out airstrikes in Syria targeted at terrorist positions at the request of Syrian President Bashar Assad. In March 2016, the biggest part of Russian air forces left Syria in line with the decision of Russian President Vladimir Putin, following successful task fulfillment.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in December that the Syrian government and armed opposition groups had reached an agreement on a nationwide ceasefire in Syria and on readiness to start peace talks.

The G7 calls on Russia and Iran to use their influence on Syria's authorities to ensure Damascus' compliance with chemical weapons obligations.

"We call on Russia and Iran, who have a responsibility, as allies of the Syrian regime, to use their influence to ensure Syria’s compliance with all of its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention," the communique said.

The G7 countries are ready to cooperate in resolving the conflict in Syria and restoration of the country if Russia is ready to use its influence on the Syrian government.

"If Russia is prepared to use its influence, then we are prepared to work with it in resolving the conflict in Syria, pursuing a political settlement and ultimately contributing to the costs of stabilization and reconstruction," the communique said.

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On April 4, a chemical weapons incident in Syria's Idlib province claimed the lives of some 80 people and inflicted harm on an additional 200 civilians. The Syrian National Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, as well as a number of Western states, accused the Syrian government troops of carrying out the attack, while Damascus refuted these allegations, with a Syrian army source telling Sputnik that the army did not possess chemical weapons.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on April 5 that the airstrike near Khan Shaykhun by the Syrian air force hit a terrorist warehouse that stored chemical weapons slated for delivery to Iraq, and called on the UN Security Council to launch a proper investigation into the incident.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said April 6 that groundless accusations in the chemical weapons incident in Syria's Idlib were unacceptable before the investigation into the matter had been carried out.

However, the incident was used as pretext for a US missile strike against the Ash Sha'irat airbase carried out late on April 6. US President Donald Trump characterized the strike as a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government troops while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was a violation of the international law. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described the US missile strike against the Syrian airfield as a strategic mistake.

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Earlier this year, Syrian President Bashar Assad said that the country’s government had never used weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons, against the Syrian people. Besides, under a Russian-US deal after the east Ghouta sarin gas incident in 2013, Damascus joined the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and agreed to destroy its stockpile under Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) oversight. In January 2016, the OPCW announced that all chemical weapons in Syria had been destroyed.

"We express full support to the OPCW Fact Finding Mission investigation and stress that if the Fact Finding Mission concludes that chemical weapons have or have likely been used, the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism should immediately carry out its investigation in accordance with its mandate to identify the perpetrators," the document said.

"We call upon the Syrian Arab Republic and all parties in Syria to cooperate fully with the OPCW to allow a prompt  conclusion of its investigation on this heinous incident," it said.

The Group of seven world leaders is committed to Syria's unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

"We reiterate our commitment to the unity, sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the Syrian State," the communique reads.

"We recognize that we have common interests with Russia in several areas, including countering terrorism and violent extremism in full respect of international law, confronting migration problems, fighting proliferation and finding answers to urgent environmental questions. We would welcome a constructive role by Russia in solving regional crises and unresolved regional questions," the communique added.

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