Russia vows to hit back
US accused of stalling on ceasefire plan
Russia has warned the United States that it will start responding to ceasefire violations in Syria unilaterally starting today if Washington refuses to coordinate rules of engagement against the violators.
A US official said the issues were being discussed “in a constructive manner”.
The Russian military have accused the US of dragging its feet on responding to Moscow’s proposals on joint monitoring of a Syria ceasefire.
A Russian general said at the weekend that further delays are leading to civilian casualties, like in Aleppo, where 67 civilians reportedly have been killed by militant fire since the truce started.
Lt Gen Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian General Staff said in a statement yesterday that Russia will have to use force unilaterally because the US, in talks with Russia last week, had refused to coordinate a joint response.
“The American side was not ready for this particular discussion and for the approval of the agreement”, the statement quoted him as saying.
However, in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press, a US official in Geneva said: “We have seen the media reports on alleged Russian concerns over ceasefire violations. Whoever is making such statements must be misinformed, because these issues have been discussed at length already, and continue to be discussed, in a constructive manner.”
The official demanded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak publicly on the matter. The ceasefire that began on February 27, brokered by Russia and the US, has helped significantly reduce hostilities.
Extremist groups ISIS and the Al Qaedalinked Al Nusra Front have been excluded from the truce.
Russian President Vladimir Putin last week recalled some Russian warplanes from Syria, but said the action against ISIS and the Al Nusra Front will continue.