Damascus: Russian military could redeploy if needed

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Syrian government negotiator Bashar Jaafari said that Russian forces could return “again and again and again” if necessary. Photo: UN Photo/Anne-Laure Lechat

The Syrian government has said that the Russian military could return "again and again and again" to the country if necessary, as peace talks entered their third day at the UN in Geneva.

Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, Syria's negotiator Bashar Jaafari insisted that the Russian announcement to reduce operations in the war-torn country had been taken jointly.

Jaafari also described his meeting with UN negotiators as "useful" before warning that no one opposition group should "monopolise" discussions on the country's future, in an apparent swipe at the High Negotiation Committee taking part in the talks.

Here's Daniel Johnson's report from Geneva.

On the third day of substantive talks to decide Syria's future, the question of Russia's recently announced military draw-down once again dominated proceedings at the UN in Geneva.

When asked about how President Vladmir Putin's decision might affect the outcome of the talks, Syria's chief negotiatior Bashar Jaafari was adamant: if the Russian move came as a surprise to everyone else, then it hadn't been one for President Assad.

"Our friends and allies the Russians came to Syria by a joint decision, and the day they will leave or withdraw, or redeploy their forces partially or totally, it will be done again and again and again by a joint Syria-Russian coordination action."

Bashar Jaafari also issued a warning about the talks not being sufficiently representative of the opposition – a swipe at the High Negotiations Committee present at the UN-led discussions in the Swiss city.

But that threat was countered by Ramzy Ezzeldine Ramzy, Deputy Special Envoy for Syria, who insisted that the United Nations was talking to the "broadest spectrum" of Syrian society, as laid down by UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1'11


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