BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) – Russia is ready to back a UN Security Council resolution calling for a 30-day ceasefire in Syria, but only if it does not cover fighters from Daesh and other terrorist groups.
"The resolution that we are suggested to adopt...we are ready to consider this proposal," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday.
But Lavrov underscored that the ceasefire "must not cover Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra and the factions that are cooperating with them and are systematically shelling residential areas of Damascus".
He added that the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria had proposed to Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the Al-Nusra Front, to leave the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta but they refused.
Lavrov’s comments, made during a two-day official visit to Serbia's capital, come as the Security Council is set to hold an emergency meeting later today on the besieged enclave of Eastern Ghouta.
Home to some 400,000 people, Eastern Ghouta has remained under a crippling siege by forces of the Bashar al-Assad regime for the past five years which has brought the area to the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe.
Lavrov further noted that Moscow is concerned that the aim of those who want to pass the Security Council resolution is to ‘demonize’ the Syrian government in order to advance a Plan B to overthrow the regime in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which stipulates that Syrians themselves decide their own destiny.
Adopted by the Security Council unanimously in late 2015, the resolution calls for a lasting ceasefire and a viable political settlement in war-torn Syria.
"If our arguments are ignored again, we have no other choice but to be reinforced in the view that the aim of the authors of this initiative is to once again shift the attention to Damascus [and] cover up terrorist groups," Lavrov added.
Voting on the draft is expected to take place later today.
Syria has been locked in a devastating conflict since early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.
According to UN officials, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday he was "deeply saddened by the terrible suffering of the civilian population in Eastern Ghouta”.
Its residents are “living in hell on earth,” Guterres said during his address to a Security Council briefing on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter in the maintenance of international peace and security.
He called for an immediate suspension of "all war activities" in the area.
"At this time, it is especially urgent for the Security Council to uphold its responsibility to bring about a political settlement on Syria in accordance with resolution 2254 under UN auspices," he said.