UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura held on Thursday talks with Russia’s Foreign and Defense ministers Sergei Lavrov and Sergei Shoigu in Moscow in an attempt to convince the Russian side to “conform” Damascus’ position, after the eighth round of the Geneva talks last week revealed the Syrian regime delegation’s “retreat” from its previous stands.
Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that head of the Damascus delegation to the Geneva peace talks, Bashar Jaafari demanded that “his country be completely cleared from terrorists before discussing the files of the constitution and the elections.”
De Mistura's visit to Moscow on Thursday coincided with the Astana meetings held in the presence of representatives from Russia, Turkey and Iran, in addition to representatives from both the Syrian regime and the opposition.
Talks about issues related to a political settlement in Syria prevailed over the meeting.
Speaking in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, ahead of the new round of Syrian peace talks, Russian President Vladimir Putin's envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev said delegation of the three countries have discussed preparing the ground for the Syrian People's Congress expected in Sochi.
He said that the delegations discussed all sides of the Congress, including the date for the congress and the list of delegates.
The US Defense Department accused Russia Thursday of intentionally violating an agreement meant to avoid military accidents in the skies over Syria after two US F-22 fighter jets intercepted last week two Russian Su-25 attack jets and fired warning flares after the Russian aircraft flew east of the Euphrates River.
“Russia is failing to genuinely deconflict airspace in Syria. Some of these incidents are not mistakes,” Pentagon chief spokeswoman Dana White told CNN.