US and Russia take Syria battle to new heights
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.
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