Russia wants Damascus to rejoin the Arab League

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called yesterday for Syria to be readmitted to the Arab League as part of efforts to end the civil war in the country.

“The fact that the Syrian government, a legitimate member of the UN, can’t take part in the discussions in the Arab League, doesn’t help in the pursuit of this process,” Mr Lavrov said.

“I believe that the Arab League could play a more important, a more effective role, if the Syrian government were part of this organisation.”

He also expressed hope that US President Donald Trump’s proposal for “safe zones” in Syria and beyond would not lead to a repeat of the “tragic” 2011 NATO bombing campaign that plunged Libya into chaos.

Mr Lavrov spoke at the fourth session of the Arab-Russian Co-operation Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, the day after the United Nations postponed the next round of Syria peace negotiations in Geneva from February 8 to February 20.

UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura claimed the delay was to allow the ceasefire agreed in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana last month to firm up.

“If the ceasefire becomes as solid as we hope, that will only help the serious talks to actually be concrete,” he said.

But he added that the UN wanted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government “to become seriously engaged in concessions” — unspecified — and to give foreign-backed insurgents time to unify their delegation.

Meanwhile, Kurdish YPG militia spokesman Redur Khalil denied reports on Tuesday that it had received military vehicles from the US — despite widely published photos showing guerillas driving US-made armoured personnel carriers.