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Lavrov Reveals Why 2016 Russia-US Syria Deal Failed

The Syrian settlement process would have reached a significant breakthrough if the United States had fulfilled its obligation to separate terrorist groups from the moderate opposition, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.

Lavrov recalled that in September 2016, Russia and the United States coordinated a peace plan to address the Syrian conflict, which was "a real breakthrough" and helped provide coordination between Russian Aerospace Forces and the US-led coalition in Syria.

"The only condition outlined in this agreement was the US obligation to separate the opposition, which they support, from terrorists... They failed to fulfill this condition. If they finally kept their promise, I think that we would see a rather advanced political process on Syrian settlement and talks on the constitution would be underway, and there would be preparations for the election," Lavrov said at a forum.

According to the minister, there are doubts that unlike then-US State Secretary John Kerry, there were other people in the US administration who did not want to separate terrorists from the opposition.

On September 9, 2016, Lavrov and Kerry unveiled a peace plan to address the conflict. The agreement called for a ceasefire, unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid and stipulated that only designated terror groups would be targeted in military strikes.

The ceasefire deal was later shattered by numerous violations, which resulted in intensified fighting between the Syrian government and militants. The Syrian government later announced an end to the ceasefire regime, while Russia said that the United States failed to fulfill its obligation to separate terrorist groups from the moderate opposition.

After the failed Russia-US deal, Moscow agreed on a Syrian ceasefire with Turkey and Iran. The agreement is still valid and generally holding. However, with US President Donald Trump in office, Washington and Moscow agreed on the creation of safe zones in Syria after the US president's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines on the G20 summit in Hamburg.

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