The top Russian diplomat made the remarks during a press conference in the Serbian capital of Belgrade on Thursday, saying Russia was ready to consider a UN Security Council draft resolution demanding a 30-day truce in the Arab country as long as it did not include the two Takfiri groups and other militants “who are shelling residential quarters of Damascus.”
Lavrov’s comments came two weeks after Sweden and Kuwait, two non-permanent members of the UNSC, proposed the month-long ceasefire measure in Syria to allow deliveries of humanitarian aid and medical evacuations. The world body is expected to vote on the proposal later on Thursday.
The ceasefire resolution calls for the truce to go into effect 72 hours after the adoption of the measure and for aid deliveries and medical evacuations to commence 48 hours after that.
Eastern Ghouta is included in a deal between Turkey, Russia and Iran to establish de-escalation zones in Syria with the aim of reducing violence in the war-torn Arab country.
Earlier in the day, Moscow denied a US claim that Russian fighter jets had carried out airstrikes in Eastern Ghouta and reportedly killed scores of civilians since the start of the week, saying members of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and other militants holed up in Ghouta were shelling different parts of the flashpoint enclave.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Lavrov said the Ghouta-based militants had rejected Russia's offer to “evacuate peacefully” and that they were using civilians there as human shields.
“The al-Nusra Front and its allies categorically rejected this proposal and continue to shell the city from their positions, using the civilian population of Eastern Ghouta as a human shield,” he said.
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition monitoring group, claimed that at least 250 civilians had been killed in the attacks in the enclave, in which an estimated 400,000 people live.
Separately, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia described the situation in Eastern Ghouta as “complex,” saying, “There are terrorists there who the Syrian army is fighting and the terrorists are shelling Damascus.”
Russia has been lending aerial support to Syria’s counter-terrorism operations since September 2015.
Meanwhile, the US and its allies have been bombarding what they call Daesh positions inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.
The strikes, however, have on many occasions resulted in civilian casualties and failed to fulfill their declared aim of countering terrorism.