Post by: Chief News Editor | Published: September 28, 2016 , 11:54 pm | Category: TOP NEWS
Washington, U.S.A.-Secretary of State John Kerry told his Russian counterpart Wednesday that the U.S. will stop talking to Russia about ending Syria’s civil war unless it ends an onslaught in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo by Russian and Syrian government forces.
Kerry’s warning came as Pope Francis assailed the assault on civilians in what was Syria’s largest city, saying the perpetrators will be held “accountable to God” for their actions.
Over the past week in Aleppo, Russian and Syrian war planes have unleashed the worst aerial bombardment in the five-year-old war. More than 200 people have been killed, according to human rights groups.
Kerry, in a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, repeated his demand that Russia press Syria’s government to stop attacking opposition forces and civilians. He also warned that the U.S. “is making preparations to suspend U.S.-Russia bilateral engagement on Syria” unless that happens, State Department spokesman said in a statement.
Kerry has been calling for a stop to the attacks since they began Sept. 19, causing a week-old cease-fire negotiated between the U.S. and Russia to collapse.
Kerry “made clear” the United States holds Russia responsible for the carnage, especially for using incendiary and bunker-buster bombs in an urban environment, which Kirby called “a drastic escalation that puts civilians at great risk.” The deteriorating situation has been exacerbated by continued Russian and Syrian government attacks on hospitals, the water supply and other civilian infrastructure in Aleppo, he said.
Lavrov countered that a number of anti-government groups described by Washington as “moderates” refused to follow the cease-fire and chose to side with al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front, according to Russian state-owned broadcaster RT.
The pope, speaking to an audience in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, said: “In expressing my deep sorrow and lively concern for what is happening in that already battered city — where children, the elderly, the sick, young and old, all are dying — I renew my appeal to everyone to commit themselves with all their strength to the protection of civilians as an imperative and urgent obligation.”
More than 250,000 civilians are thought to be trapped inside rebel-held parts of Aleppo, which had a pre-war population of more than 2 million. Syrian government forces carried out the biggest ground assault yet in their new offensive Tuesday, Reuters reported.
Air strikes hit a hospital in a rebel-held area early Wednesday, according to Al Jazeera.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that talks are urgently needed to revive the cease-fire.
“What we currently see on the ground is very, very brutal and clearly targeting civilians,” she said, adding that developments in recent days have been a “deep, deep setback.”
On Tuesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the U.S. is considering seeking international sanctions against Russians involved in assisting the Syrian government’s conduct in the war. But such sanctions would have to be coordinated with U.S. allies, and not imposed unilaterally by the United States, Earnest said.
“We have found the strategy of implementing sanctions in close coordination with our partners to be a much more effective way for us to maximize the impact of financial sanctions,” he said. “That’s an option I would not take off the table in this instance.”
NEWS COLLECTED FROM USA TODAY.