Russia, US in blame game as Aleppo bombings go on
REUTERS photoRussia has said it will press on with a bombing campaign in Syria despite a U.S. warning it will end talks on the conflict if Moscow does not halt its assault, amid the continued bombing of Aleppo.
Russia is backing up a ferocious assault by the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to seize the rebel-held eastern half of the city of Aleppo that has sparked condemnation from the West.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted Sept. 29 that Moscow was still interested in seeing the deal with the U.S. work out, but said Washington had failed to deliver on its side of the bargain.
“We have unfortunately taken note of the rather unconstructive character of the rhetoric from Washington over the past few days,” Peskov said. “Moscow maintains its interest in cooperating with Washington for the realization of the agreement.”
In the meantime, Peskov said “Moscow is continuing its air operation to support the anti-terrorist actions of the Syrian armed forces.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, on Sept. 28 that possible plans to set up a joint U.S.-Russia military cell to target jihadist groups in Syria could also be put on hold.
“He informed the foreign minister that the United States is making preparations to suspend U.S.-Russia bilateral engagement on Syria,” said Kerry’s spokesman, John Kirby.
Kerry and Lavrov have been leading international efforts to bring Syria’s five-year-old civil war to an end, and on Sept. 9 agreed to demand a cease-fire.
Moscow was to order its ally al-Assad to rein in his military and end the bombardment of civilian communities, and Washington was to persuade rebel forces to separate themselves from the jihadist Fateh al-Sham, the former al-Qaeda affiliate once known as al-Nusra Front.
But fighting continued and the truce collapsed.
As Russia and the U.S. went on blaming each other, air strikes continued to hit Aleppo.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that air strikes have hit the last remaining bakery serving the town of Anadan, which lies north of the besieged city of Aleppo, putting it out of service.
Adnan Medlej, an activist from Anadan, says the bakery was hit shortly after it distributed bread to the town’s remaining 2,000 residents and others in nearby villages. After coming under intense bombing and devastating its infrastructure, most of the town’s residents have fled to other areas in rural Aleppo.
The United Nations deputy Syria envoy Ramzy Ezzeldine Ramzy said on Sept. 29 that hundreds of wounded required evacuation from besieged eastern Aleppo, where medical supplies were running low and there were only rations for a quarter of the population.
“It is estimated that as many as 600 wounded cannot be provided with adequate treatment,” Ramzy said, noting that the rebel-held sector of 275,000 had just 35 doctors and scant medical supplies.
The U.N. envoy for Syria said Sept. 29 there was little prospect of an imminent restart of negotiations to try to end the raging conflict.
“At the moment, when bombs are falling all over, it is very difficult to justify resuming talks,” Staffan de Mistura told AFP after he met Pope Francis at the Vatican.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Sept. 29 that Russia was outraged by the threatening tone of the latest U.S. statement on Syria, viewing it as tantamount to supporting terrorism.
Earlier in the day, the Russian Defense Ministry that it was “ready to continue joint work with our American partners on the Syrian issue” but gave no sign that Russia is ready to ground the Syrian air force.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attacks Sept. 28 on the two largest hospitals in rebel-held parts of Syria’s Aleppo as “war crimes.”
“Let us be clear. Those using ever more destructive weapons know exactly what they are doing. They know they are committing war crimes,” Ban told the Security Council.
“Imagine the destruction. People with limbs blown off. Children in terrible pain with no relief,” he said. “Imagine a slaughterhouse. This is worse.”
The two biggest hospitals in rebel-controlled parts of Aleppo have been bombed in what nongovernmental organizations and residents say are deliberate attacks by the Syrian regime and its Russian allies to eliminate these structures.