Russian embassy in Damascus targeted twice with missiles

The Russian embassy in the Syrian capital of Damascus was shelled on Thursday and Friday but no one was hurt, Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The Foreign Ministry said that the first attacks on the Russian embassy since the start of the latest ceasefire agreement in Syria is aimed to undermine the truce and derail the Syrian peace process.

It said one of the shells hit the space between an office and residential housing, and another exploded 20 meters away from the entrance.

“One of the mines exploded on the territory of the embassy complex and the other — 20 meters from the main entrance to the embassy.”

“We strongly condemn the new terrorist attack against the Russian diplomatic mission in Damascus. Vile attacks on our [Russian] embassy are taking place amid truce and with an evident aim to disrupt the regime of the cessation of hostilities and derail efforts in the Syrian political process.”

“Such a crime cannot be left unpunished,” the ministry said, adding that “Russia will continue fighting terrorists in Syria.”

Russia called for joint efforts in the fight against the “terrorist hotbed” represented by ISIS and al-Nusra Front.

The ministry added that the anti-terrorist resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council should be implemented so that terrorists stopped receiving arms and money.

Russia’s role in Syria

Russia played an essential role in saving Assad regime from being overwhelmed by the rebel forces who sought to overthrow him.

By the summer of 2015, President Assad seemed on the verge of being overthrown. Then Russia launched its military intervention and tilted the tide of war in Assad regime’s favor

The Russian intervention helped Assad regime to achieve many victories against the rebel forces and retrieve important areas that has been in their hands since 2012.

The last major stronghold for rebels was in Aleppo, and Assad’s allies helped him to retrieve it after long months of crippling siege, daily bombardment and the use of internationally banned weapons. The complete absence of medical care, starvation forced by the siege and daily bombardment led hundreds of civilians to slow tragic death.

Many ceasefire agreements accompanied by peace talks meetings were organized to help find a solution to the crisis in Syria, but Assad regime and Iranian forces breached every ceasefire and hindered every peace talks meeting without any pressure moves or real steps from the western powers.

The recent months especially witnessed numerous meetings between the US and Russian foreign ministers to find a solution to the Syria crisis, end the violence and start new peace talks but they led to nothing.

In the end, Russia said it has a new plan for Syria peace talks which can be achieved with powers that have a real effect on the Syrian ground after its most of the pressure cards in the hands of opposition were lost.

Russia and Iran both back Assad, but Turkey, a NATO member, has long made clear it would prefer him to step down. Ankara has however sought to fix its relation with Russia in recent months after the coup attempt as the west abandoned its relations with Turkey.

The three countries said they were ready to help broker a Syria peace deal after the three countries held talks in Moscow and adopted a new declaration.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said then that that Syrian opposition groups and the Syrian government had signed a number of documents including a ceasefire deal that will be guaranteed by Turkey and Russia.

The documents include a ceasefire agreement between the Syrian government and the opposition, measures to monitor the ceasefire deal and a statement on the readiness to start peace talks to settle the Syrian crisis, Putin said.

The ceasefire went into effect on December 29 but has been breached numerous times by Assad regime and the Iran-backed militias especially around Damascus city.

The opposition delegation said at first that they will not attend the talks in Astana on January 23 due to the regime breaches, then said they will take part and focus on finding ways to maintain the ceasefire and protect the civilians.

The talks have ended with Russia, Turkey and Iran making a joint statement about the consequences of the talks, agreeing on a mechanism to support a delicate ceasefire, deciding to make a joint fight agaisnt terrorism in Syria, and calling for a political solution for the Syrian crisis.

The Syrian crisis began as a peaceful demonstration against the injustice in Syria. Assad regime used to fire power and violence against the civilians and led to armed resistance. 450.000 Syrians lost their lives in the past five years according to UN estimates, and more than 12 million have lost their homes.