Kerry tells Russia US patience on Syria ‘very limited’
AFP photoU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Russia and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on June 15 to respect a fragile ceasefire, warning that Washington’s patience was running out.
“Russia needs to understand that our patience is not infinite, in fact it is very limited with whether or not Assad is going to be held accountable,” Kerry said during a visit to Norway.
“We also are prepared to hold accountable members of the opposition” who have been involved in continuing violence, he said after a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
World powers have failed to turn a fragile cessation of hostilities in Syria, in effect since February 27, into a durable truce and Damascus has stepped up its military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and rebels in the second city of Aleppo.
“It is very clear that the cessation of hostilities is frayed and at risk and that it is critical for a genuine cessation to be put in place. We know that, we have no illusion,” Kerry said.
“This is a critical moment and we are working very, very hard to see if we can in the next week or two come to an agreement that has a capacity to more fully implement a ceasefire across the country and deliver humanitarian access in a way that then provides for a genuine opportunity to bring people to the table and start talking about a transition,” Kerry said.
“I’m not going to make any promises to be delivered on but I do believe the conversation I had with Zarif indicates to me possibilities for how this could be achieved,” he added, without elaborating.
Kerry’s talks with Zarif follow a meeting between the defense ministers of Iran, Russia and Syria last week on the battle against the various armed groups fighting the Assad regime.
The Syrian government, meanwhile, said June 15 that French and German forces were present in northern Syria, an accusation denied by Germany.
Syrian state media said the government strongly condemned the presence of French and German forces in Ain al-Arab, also known as Kobane, and Manbij.
Germany’s defense ministry denied that German special forces were in northern Syria and said repeated claims by the Syrian government to this effect were not and had never been true.
“There are no German special forces in Syria. The accusation is false,” a ministry spokesman said.
The U.S.-backed Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) are currently staging an offensive against ISIL near Manbij.