Putin offers new pause, exits for Syrian’s besieged Aleppo
MOSCOWRussian President Vladimir Putin on Nov. 2 offered a new unilateral humanitarian pause for Syria’s war-ravaged Aleppo, urging rebels to use it to leave the city’s eastern, besieged districts. The Syrian rebels quickly dismissed Vladimir Putin’s initiative.
Putin has ordered that the aid corridors - which Russia had opened earlier - also be open on Nov. 4, for longer hours, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., along with two new exit routes for the rebels to leave eastern Aleppo “in order to prevent a senseless loss of life,” the Defense Ministry said, according to The Associated Press.
One exit leads to the Turkish border, the other to the city of Idlib, according to the ministry.
Chief of the Russian General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov said he was “calling on all leaders of armed groups directly to cease hostilities and leave Aleppo with their weapons.”
Gerasimov also said the rebel offensive on the Syrian government-held districts in western Aleppo, which was launched last week, has failed to break through the siege.
“They have no chance to break out of the city,” he added.
Rebel groups in Aleppo dismissed Russia’s latest offer, with one of the groups describing it as a media stunt for “public consumption.”
Yasser al-Youssef, a spokesman for the Nour el-Din el-Zinki rebel group, said Russia “is not serious” and its latest initiatives “don’t concern us.” He added that the Russian leader’s comments do not reflect the reality on the ground.
“We need an international commission to check the Russian lies,” al-Youssef said.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia seeked “honest cooperation” for a political solution in Syria.
“We hope our partners will draw the necessary conclusions [so that] we will all aim for honest cooperation... for a political process involving both the government and opposition forces,” Lavrov said at the start of an official visit to Greece.
However, he insisted that Washington help enforce a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning support for extremist groups in Syria.
“When we adopted this resolution, I remember U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s words. He said: ‘Whoever wants to be part of [the political] process must sever links to terrorists’,” Lavrov said through a translator.
“Almost a year has passed and we await these words to be carried out,” he added.
(HH) US reiterates unwillingness to see Syria’s al-Assad in power ‘over long-term’
The United States on Nov. 1 reiterated its stance toward Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying he should not stay in power over the long-term.
“We don’t want to see al-Assad be part of the long-term future of Syria,” said U.S. State Department spokesperson John Kirby during a daily briefing on Nov. 1 after being asked his thoughts on al-Assad’s comments that he planned to remain president at least until his third seven-year term ends in 2021.
“I saw the comments and all I can tell you is that we’re committed, the ISSG [International Syrian Support Group] is committed, the U.N. is committed to trying to get political talks back on track so that we can get a transitional process in place. And from our view in the United States, nothing’s changed about our view that he cannot be part of the long-term future of Syria,” Kirby said.
In an interview published on the New York Times on Nov. 1, al-Assad said he was just a “headline — the bad president, the bad guy, who is killing the good guys.”
“You know this narrative. The real reason is toppling the government. This government doesn’t fit the criteria of the United States,” he added.