US and Rus­sia take Syria bat­tle to new heights

China Daily (USA) - - WORLD - By AGEN­CIES in Unit­edNa­tions

The United States and Rus­sia are tak­ing their dif­fer­ences over the con­flict in­Syria tonew heights, af­ter trad­ing fe­ro­cious al­le­ga­tions of du­plic­ity and malfea­sance at the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

Af­ter a frac­tious meet­ing of the coun­cil on Wed­nes­day, US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry and Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov met again over Syria at a gath­er­ing of the rough­ly20­na­tions thathavean in­ter­est in Syria. Thurs­day’s meet­ing of the In­ter­na­tional Syria Sup­port Group came af­ter the two men blamed each other for spoil­ing the coun­try’s cease-fire that they had agreed to ear­lier this month. Each has blamed the other for vi­o­la­tions.

Kerry called for all war­planes to halt flights over aid routes, while Lavrov sug­gested a pos­si­ble three-day pause in fight­ing to get the truce back on track.

“We are at a make or break mo­ment,” UNSec­re­taryGen­eral Ban Ki-moon said.

Kerry blamed Rus­sia, lam­bast­ing what he por­trayed as a cyn­i­cal re­sponse to an airstrike Jens Laerke, on a hu­man­i­tar­ian aid con­voy this week that killed 20 civil­ians and raised “pro­found doubt” about Rus­sia’s and Syria’s will­ing­ness to abide by the cease-fire.

The US said a Rus­sian-pi­lotedair­craft car­ried­out­the strike.

Moscow de­nied that Rus­sian or Syr­ian planes car­ried out­Mon­day’s strike on the aid con­voy.

A Rus­sian mil­i­tary spokesman said a coali­tion drone was in the area when the aid trucks were de­stroyed, a claim the Pen­tagon de­nied.

Af­ter halt­ing aid oper­a­tions in re­sponse to the con­voy at­tack, the UN said it was ready to re­sume hu­man­i­tar­ian de­liv­er­ies.

“We are send­ing to­day an in­ter­a­gency con­voy that will cross con­flict lines into a be­sieged area of ru­ral Da­m­as­cus,” said Jens Laerke, spokesman of the UN Of­fice for the Co­or­di­na­tion of Hu­man­i­tar­ian Af­fairs.

Air­craft dis­patch­ing

Moscow, mean­while, said it is dis­patch­ing its flag­ship air­craft car­rier, theAd­mi­ralKuznetsov, to bol­ster its forces in the east­ernMediter­ranean off Syria.

In his ad­dress to the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, Lavrov de­clared that there would be “no more uni­lat­eral pauses” by Syr­ian gov­ern­ment forces, ar­gu­ing that op­po­si­tion fight­ers on the ground had pre­vi­ously used those cease-fires to re­group.

The for­eign min­is­ter in­sisted that all sides must rein in rebel groups on the ground to en­sure they com­ply with the cease-fire and said a list of ter­ror groups not cov­ered by the truce should be re­viewed.

We are send­ing to­day an in­ter­a­gency con­voy ... into a be­sieged area of ru­ral Da­m­as­cus.”

spokesman of the UN Of­fice for the Co­or­di­na­tion of Hu­man­i­tar­ian Af­fairs

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