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Moscow Prioritizes Syrian Congress in Sochi despite Geneva Talks

Moscow Prioritizes Syrian Congress in Sochi despite Geneva Talks

Friday, 8 December, 2017 - 09:15
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) welcomes US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson before a meeting in Moscow on April 12, 2017. AFP photo

The Russian Defense Ministry has announced the total defeat of ISIS organization in Syria amid preparations to hold the "Syrian Congress" in the Russian city of Sochi early in 2018 to back the Geneva talks.

Senior military officer Sergei Rudskoi said at a briefing on Thursday that Moscow's "goal to defeat armed groups of the ISIS terrorist organization in Syria has been accomplished.”

"There is not a single village or district in Syria under the control of ISIS. The territory of Syria has been completely liberated from fighters of this terrorist organization," he said. 

There has been an "unprecedented" involvement by Russia's airforce in recent days, Rudskoi added, with jets making 100 sorties and staging up to 250 strikes daily.

At the same time, special forces were on the ground directing planes and "destroying the most odious leaders of militant groups behind enemy lines," he said.

Rudskoi said the Geneva talks remain the main platform for a Syrian settlement, but stressed that the Astana and Sochi tracks “can help achieve positive results in Geneva.”

In Geneva, UN envoy Staffan de Mistura continued his consultations with the opposition delegation as the negotiators of the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad', said they would turn up five days late.

Meanwhile, Interfax news agency said that meetings scheduled to be held in Astana on December 21 and 22 will discuss preparations for the Sochi conference.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Vienna on Thursday the establishment of “a sustainable negotiating process involving all Syrian political forces, including within the Geneva process and in the format of the forthcoming National Dialogue Congress in Sochi."

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