Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov issued a statement Monday through the RIA news agency criticizing pushes by other UN Security Council members for the Syrian Army to halt its offensive in the Idlib Province.
Lavrov sees the attempts to stop the offensive as designed primarily to help the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate, and says Western countries have failed to use their influence with Nusra to keep the group disciplined during previous pauses.
UN officials have been pushing for international action to calm the situation in Idlib Province, as well as in the nearby Afrin District, which is being invaded by Turkey. Western nations have mostly focused on Idlib, however, with calls for Turkey to stop attacking Afrin getting little traction.
Pushes to save Nusra forces from Syrian government offensives are nothing new, as pushes for ceasefires in Aleppo in recent years similarly were done when Nusra’s territory was threatened. Though the group is an al-Qaeda affiliate, it is often treated as a relative “moderate” within Syria, since so many rebel groups pledge loyalty to al-Qaeda.
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