Syrian Crisis: US suspends ceasefire talks with Russia

Syria: US suspends ceasefire talks with Russia

The United States has suspended talks with Russia on an agreement aiming at ending the war in Syria, accusing Moscow of not fulfilling its commitments about the ceasefire in Syria.

Assad regime, backed by Russia, said on September 22 it was starting a new wide offensive to recapture the rebel-held parts of Aleppo after a week-long ceasefire was declared officially over on 19 September. the offensive includes a ground assault, artillery bombardment, and intensive airstrikes.

Since 19 September, more than 500 civilians have been killed and more than 1700 injured in rebel-held areas of Aleppo province, including the besieged eastern part of the city, Civil defense workers said.

The US government released a statement on Monday confirming the suspension of talks.

“The United States is suspending its participation in bilateral channels with Russia that were established to sustain the cessation of hostilities,” US State Department spokesperson John Kirby said in the statement.

“This is not a decision that was taken lightly.”

Kirby said the United States would continue to communicate with the Russian military to ensure that American and Russian aircraft operating in Syria do not come into conflict with each other.

But he said the United States would withdraw all personnel it had dispatched to prepare for military co-operation with Russia under the latest ceasefire agreement.

“Unfortunately, Russia failed to live up to its own commitments …and was also either unwilling or unable to ensure Syrian regime adherence to the arrangements to which Moscow agreed,” Kirby said.

A U.S. intelligence official said the bombing campaign was “one of the deadliest” since the civil war erupted in 2011.

“These air strikes, mostly focussed on Aleppo, have utilized a wide variety of deadly munitions, including barrel bombs, thermobaric bombs, incendiary munitions, cluster bombs and bunker busters,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Russian respond

Russia’s foreign ministry said it regretted the US decision to suspend Syria talks, saying Washington was trying to shift responsibility for the failure to halt violence onto Moscow.

“Washington simply did not fulfil the key condition of the agreement to improve the humanitarian condition around Aleppo,” ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

“After failing to fulfil the agreements that they themselves worked out, they are trying to shift responsibility on to someone else”.

Zakharova insisted that “in the past few days” Russia had “taken efforts aimed at fulfiling” the ceasefire deal, after it unravelled in acrimony.

“It all essentially came down to a simple question – who are Jabhat al-Nusra, who is behind them, and why can’t Washington fulfil its promise to divide the terrorists from the so-called moderate opposition,” she said, referring to the group now calling itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

The Assad regime forces, backed by Russian air power, Iranian ground forces and Shi’ite militia fighters from Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, has been tightening its grip on rebel-held districts of Aleppo this year, and this summer achieved a long-held goal of fully encircling the area.

Recovering full control of the rebels’ last significant urban area would be the most important victory of the war so far for Assad, strengthening his control over Syria’s most populous and strategically important regions.

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.