US: Russia willing to deploy monitors for Syria ceasefire
WASHINGTONRussia has said it is willing to deploy monitors to prevent any violations of a ceasefire in southwestern Syria by Syrian government forces, a senior U.S. official has said.
Brett McGurk, U.S. special envoy for the coalition against Islamic State ofIraq and the Levant (ISIL), said the United States was “very encouraged” by the progress since the cease-fire arranged by the United States, Russia and Jordan took effect July 9.
“The Russians have made clear they’re very serious about this and willing to put some of their people on the ground to help monitor from the regime side,” McGurk told reporters.
“They do not want the regime violating the ceasefire.”
Russia is the main backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Russian air power and Iranian-backed militias have helped put mostly Sunni rebels at a disadvantage over the past year.
The wide array of rebels fighting Assad since 2011 includes jihadist factions and other groups supported by the United States, Turkey and Gulf monarchies.
The “de-escalation agreement” for southwestern Syria was announced after a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Germany.
Trump, in a news conference in Paris on July 13, said work was under way to negotiate a ceasefire in a second region of Syria.
“I think the president is referring to a very constructive discussion that he had with the Russians in building from this southwest agreement,” McGurk said when asked about Turmp’s remark.
The United States has had “very constructive ... military-to-military discussions with the Russians about deconfliction arrangements” in recent weeks and is keen to explore the possibility of ceasefires in other areas, he said.
McGurk said the United States, Russia and Jordan had conducted extensive discussions to agree on a detailed line of contact as a basis for the southwestern ceasefire, and were now looking at where monitors could be placed.
“That discussion is very much ongoing, and I’m hopeful over the next week or so it can get somewhere,” he said.