The USA has turned to Russia for help in salvaging the fragile truce in Syria, in the wake of the recent attacks in Aleppo that have left hundreds dead and more injured, reports the Associated Press at Times Union.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has appealed once again to his Russian counterpart to assist in containing and reducing the violence happening in Syria. Thousands of lives and the fate of a weakened peace pact necessary to defeat the Islamic State terrorist group are at stake.
“We are talking directly to the Russians, even now,” Kerry said on his arrival in Geneva, Switzerland on May 1, 2016 for a bilateral meeting on Syria.
The hope is we can make some progress, but the UN Security Council Resolution calls for a full country, countrywide, cessation and also for all of the country to be accessible to humanitarian assistance. Obviously that hasn’t happened and isn’t happening.
“These are critical hours. We look for Russia’s cooperation. We obviously look for the regime to listen to Russia and to respond to the international communities’ powerful statement to the UN Security Council,” Kerry stressed.
Kerry has spoken with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday, and US officials say he hopes to meet with Lavrov again soon. In Geneva, Kerry has begun talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh and is to meet UN envoy Staffan de Mistura and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Monday.
Lavrov was not expected to attend the meeting in Geneva, which have been making Kerry’s mission complicated. The State Department has announced that Kerry would continue to “review ongoing efforts to reaffirm the cessation of hostilities nationwide in Syria, obtain the full humanitarian access to which the Syrian government committed and support a political transition.”
Concrete options on how to achieve these goals are limited, and Friday’s announcement of a partial cease-fire that excludes Aleppo has factored in to make Kerry’s position more difficult. The officials that started the initiative, overseen mainly by Russia and the USA as co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group, described the move as “reinforcement” of the truce in February that is now hanging by a thread.
Syria announced an extended unilateral cease-fire around its capital for 24 hours more on Sunday, but only from Damascus and its suburbs and parts of coastal province Latakia. It excluded Aleppo.
In a report by Reuters, Judeh said a complete cease-fire is necessary for peace talks and humanitarian aid to resume. “We have to address the situation on the ground today asserting a nationwide cessation of hostilities that will lead to a better and more conducive environment for the political track,” Judeh said. “It is en entire package: the cessation of hostilities, the negotiations, and the humanitarian access. All three of them are being challenges and we have to address that today.”