Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s answers to media questions on the sidelines of the Middle East Conference of the Valdai International Discussion Club Moscow, February 19, 2018

Monday, 19 February 2018 11:55

Question: According to reports, the number of casualties in Deir ez-Zor, including Russians, is growing. Can you tell us what happened there?

Sergey Lavrov: We have issued a statement on this matter. I believe this is enough. Overall, I hope that your questions proceed from a desire to promote a settlement. The reports we have read about hundreds and even thousands of casualties are an attempt to speculate on the war that regrettably continues in Syria, despite progress in the establishment of de-escalation zones. I consider such attempts as inappropriate, to say the least.

Question: Judging by the publications, the number of casualties is growing

Sergey Lavrov: The publications you mention come from a specific group of media outlets. They are raising a public uproar without providing any hard facts and before the ongoing investigation is over. I am asking you for patience, and, please, remember your professional integrity – truth and nothing but the truth.

Question: What is the latest count, according to your information? And why are there Russians there?

Sergey Lavrov: It is strange that you cannot hear me. The investigation is still ongoing. Why are there French and British citizens there? There are mercenaries from all over the world there. There are also special operations forces there, which nobody invited. They simply went there. And then my French colleague says that Iran must withdraw its armed units and military advisers from Syria. He forgets that Iran has been invited to Syria by the legitimate government, whereas nobody has invited French special operations forces there. I cannot talk with you if you insist on using this logic.

Question: I would like to ask you about Afrin…

Sergey Lavrov: We have talked about Afrin in detail at a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. We have said everything, and I don’t want to make guesses about what will happen there next.

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