The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday sought to diffuse criticism of a U.S.-Russian ceasefire agreement on Syria arguing that without it violence would increase significantly with many more Syrians slaughtered or forced to flee the war-torn country.

The deal struck between Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Friday agreed to a seven-day period of reduced violence and increased humanitarian aid deliveries.

If the truce holds, U.S. and Russian militaries would begin to coordinate air strikes against Nusra Front and Islamic State militants in an agreed area.

The plan aims to bring together the warring Syrian sides for talks on a political transition, which would involve Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stepping aside.

“It’s a last chance to be able to hold Syria together,” Kerry said in an interview with NPR’s Morning Edition. “If you fail to get a cessation in place now and we cannot get to the table, then the fighting is going to increase significantly.”

He added: “What’s the alternative? The alternative is to allow us to go from 450,000 people who have been slaughtered to how many thousands more? That Aleppo gets completely overrun? That the Russians and Assad simply bomb indiscriminately for days to come and we sit there and do nothing?”

The five-year war has killed an estimated 430,000 people since the start of the conflict, with roughly 11 million people made homeless in the world’s worst refugee crisis.

Senior U.S. military and intelligence have criticized the plan saying Russia cannot be trusted. The plan envisions the U.S. military sharing targeting information for strikes against militants with Russian forces.

Kerry said the agreement had the support of U.S. President Barack Obama, with whom he met on Tuesday.

“Well, the president of the United States is ready and I think the military therefore will be ready,” he said.

“Nobody’s asking people to abrogate our standards, but it is important for us to keep our part of the bargain,” Kerry added.

The agreement marks the biggest test yet by Washington that it can work with Moscow to end a war that President Vladimir Putin transformed a year ago when he sent warplanes to join the fight on Assad’s side

Kerry said moderate opposition fighters, backed by the United States and Gulf allies, had been losing ground to Russian-backed government forces.

“The dynamic of Assad hammering them and Russia hammering them is going to drive them into the hands of Nusra and ISIL,” said Kerry, “And you’ll have a greater degree of radicalization of increased intensity.”

Twenty-four hours after the truce took effect, senior State Department officials said there had been a reduction in violence.

U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura declared that U.N. aid access should be possible soon, including to eastern Aleppo, the rebel-held half of the city that is under blockade.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the most intense fighting since the ceasefire began took place on Tuesday night in the village of Maan in Hama province. Insurgents operating in the Hama area included jihadists and nationalist rebels fighting under the Free Syrian Army banner.

It was not immediately clear whether the insurgents were part of the ceasefire, although the senior U.S. official said all groups except Nusra and Islamic State had to abide by the cessation of hostilities rules.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Michael Perry)

Photo: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) shake hands at the conclusion of their news conference following their meeting in Geneva, Switzerland where they discussed the crisis in Syria September 9, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

#EndorseThis: Lindell Loses It When CNN Says His 'Proof' Is 'Completely Ridiculous'
#EndorseThis: Lindell Loses It When CNN Says His 'Proof' Is 'Completely Ridiculous'

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is now claiming that some financial institutions no longer want to do business with him because he poses a "reputation risk" as he continues to push former President Donald Trump's false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

On Friday, January 14, Lindell appeared on Steve Bannon's podcast "War Room" where he claimed "Heartland Financial and Minnesota Bank and Trust are attempting to 'de-bank' him over concerns that they could face fallout related to having him as a client," Newsweek reports. During the broadcast, the two right-wing enthusiasts played an audio recording of what they claim was a discussion between Lindell and a banking official.

Keep reading... Show less
Trump’s Catastrophic Boast About Coronavirus
Trump’s Catastrophic Boast About Coronavirus

Arizona Republican State Representative Jake Hoffman made news this week when it was revealed he signed a forged “certification” falsely stating Donald Trump, not Joe Biden, won his state’s Electoral College electors.

Video that’s gone viral of Hoffman shows him defending signing the forged documents in which he falsely identifies himself as a duly elected elector for Trump.

Keep reading... Show less
x
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}